Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How To Help Imaginations Soar

A couple weeks ago I wrote this post on why I don’t take it upon myself to be my children’s entertainment source. My goal is to build their imaginations so that they will play independently.

These are some of the ways in which I foster imagination within my children…

Tent Building~ Let them drag out blankets and sheets and build a fort using furniture, your kitchen table and chairs, or construct one outside using the clothes line. My children love doing this!  They drag into their tents all sorts of things, pillows, stuffed animals, army dudes, you name it!

Tea Parties/Picnics~ We have these almost daily!  I set my daughter up with a tray and her tea set.  She serves water and sometimes crackers.  Other times I have her use her imaginary food.  Either way it is a game that makes for some great conversations!  I usually start out with a cup of “tea” or two, then I tell her mommy has some work to do and let her continue with her party.  She usually brings her dollies in for the party and the fun and imagination builds.


Play Dough~ This is one I don’t do every week, maybe not even every month! But, it is one my children love even my eleven-year-old still enjoys creating with it.  Plus, now that they are a bit older my boys can vacuum up any play dough crumbs that inevitably fall to the floor!


Box Creations~ When a cracker, cereal or Kleenex box becomes empty my boys will often ask if they can have it.  They use them for barns, garages, caves, hideouts and all sorts of things for their toys.  If I have bigger boxes they want those, too.  I let them color them and create with them. You can also let your little ones use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for telescopes, field glasses or hideouts for small toys. (Eventually we do throw them away.  This momma can only handle so much clutter!)

Dress up~ This is a major one!  My three youngest children have especially enjoyed this area of make believe.  Thankfully they have a grandma who is willing to sew costumes for them! They have received as gifts, hats, boots, moccasins, back packs and various accessories to make their outfits complete.  On any given day you may find a cowboy, an army guy, Star Wars character, princess, bunny or puppy dog roaming around our house. These games last for hours and I love to hear all the creativity flowing from my children.

Collections~ My oldest son was big into tractors when he was little.  He would play with them for hours, setting them up, making fields, working in the fields, selling items and buying others.  If your child is interested in a particular area help them expand their play by setting up your kitchen table or living room floor with their collection, then ask questions and help them build a story with their toys.



Blocks, Lincoln Logs and Legos~ Need I say more!  My children have created some of the neatest vehicles and buildings with these.  DSC_2404


Watercolors~ Grab some white cardstock and let your little artists paint away.  After their creations are dry help them make cards out of their paintings.  I have used these sort of cards for years and people always enjoy getting my children’s artwork.

Make A Book~ This is something my children do on their own quite often.  They love to make up their own books full of pictures.  Most often with my younger boys they fill the pages with pictures and so it turns into a picture book.  Lots of fun and a great beginning to writing!



This is just a selection of the things you could do with your children to help them use their imaginations.  One of the best ways to get them started is to ask them questions about what they are playing and maybe add in a few of your own outrageous ideas if they so desire.  Then sit back and listen close, because you aren’t going to want to miss the great imagination that soars out of your child!


  1. Thank you for your list! Way too often today kids rely on visual media for entertainment and have lost the art of imagination (OK... so it's not just kids!). I shouldn't be, but often I am amazed at how the simplest things can be a child's favorite past time. As I have been decluttering our home, and garage saling at the same time (he, he!) I keep reminding myself that its the basic imagination inspiring "tools" (a child's work is his play) that are what's best for my children. (Now if I can just convince my Mother-in-Love and the aunties!) ☺

  2. Glad your back!
    I also do these things with my kids. My daughter loves the art/writing/books/creative stuff and my boys love the imagination/building/competition stuff.
    for the last couple of days they've been going up an old logging road near our house and building a fort in the trees. They come back with sap from head to toe but smiling about all the adventures they've just had. I love it when they come up with things like that on their own!

  3. Great post Jenn! Yes, imaginations do soar when given the chance. AND very often the "tools" are not even required! :) Summer is the best time to get creative with these opportunities...I love the seasons and all that they bring to life.


  4. What a great post! I loved doing nearly all of these things as a child, and it's great to hear that imagination is still being kept alive :)

  5. Good Stuff!
    So many, many, many great ideas. My children enjoy so many of these things and now I have a few more to add to the list!

  6. Great ideas! I definitely lack in this area of creativity!

  7. Hey, I like your new header, too!!!!

    Jenn...thanks for all of these great inspiring ideas.

    I'll be sure to implement a few.

  8. Excellent Jenn! May I add...let them in the kitchen :) ? How about shower paints? and sidewalk chalk?
    I guess the list is endless.

  9. Great girl....there's so much more to life for children than video games and television. Imagination is a grand entertainer.

    God bless ya and have a glorious day!!!

  10. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  11. What a great list - we enjoy doing most of these things too!
    Over here boxes are like a currency - I've been known to use them as the prize for whomever has the cleanest room!
    Enjoy your holidays


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