Five Tips Friday: Encouraging imaginative play

Children come equipped with the most amazing talent - unbridled imagination! They have the potential to turn any object into a toy, or transform a simple walk into an adventure. But electronic screens are becoming a major distraction, and kids end up spending less time on imaginative play. So, what comes naturally to them sometimes gets subdued by the attractions of the television or tablet.

As parents, we can help them connect with their imagination and create their own worlds. We can create the right environment to promote creativity in play. Imaginative play doesn't just promote creativity, it develops your child's mind in a multitude of ways. Imagining something requires intelligence, creativity, perception, and understanding.

Five tips for encouraging imaginative play in your child.

Here are a few ways in which you can encourage your child to engage in imaginative play:  

1. Choose  the right toys

The simplest toys are the best. Try to buy toys which can be used in a variety of ways rather than only as part of a set. Look for 'open ended' toys which present many play opportunities, such as building blocks. There is a reason kids like cardboard boxes so much - they can turn into anything! Before discarding clothes and accessories, see if they can be used for pretend play and make a dress-up box for your children.

2. Encourage storytelling

Stories require the best of our imaginative skills. One activity which actually encourages storytelling is reading. It teaches children about the basic structure of a story, sequence of events, and character variations. Encourage your children to describe a story you just read, or act it out. In time, they will make up many of their own. You can even use hand made props to help in the storytelling process.

3. Be an active listener

When your child tells you what he's playing, ask a lot of questions. Try to match their level of excitement and join in their imagination. Sometimes, I even nudge my toddler's creativity by suggesting something fun - such as going on a boat ride on the couch, or going on a pretend picnic.

4. De-clutter the play space

Messes can inhibit the imagination. Reduce toy clutter in your home, and leave enough open space in their play area to act out their fantasies. Create lots of places to sit or 'ride' on, tunnels or caves to hide, and so on. You don't even need to have a large space to do all this. There are lots of creative ways to use small areas for play. Also, encourage them to keep their toys in place.

5. Get outside

Nothing brings out the imagination in a child than by climbing on trees, jumping in puddles, or rolling in the grass. The outdoors is where the real adventures are. No matter how old your child is, a little outdoor time is just what they need to get creative.

And here's a bonus tip:

Let them be 'bored'

Out of boredom come the best ideas! It's great if you create activities for your kids, but try to leave some free time for them to explore their own fantasies, and invent their own games.

Five Tips Friday is a series of posts on five quick tips 
about parenting, blogging, social media, travel, or just about anything!

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Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault said...

I could not agree more with these especially the last one and the bonus one. Sometimes children need to be bored to then have the time to get their imaginations going. I do think too many structured activities risk killing their own creativity. #TheList

Mums make lists said...

Great list - so so so right about being an active listener. Pinned. #pocolo

Merlinda Little said...

Boredom! The best way for them to create a play. I agree with that. My son is so into imaginative play. He role plays a lot as a teacher and I just join in the fun to encourage him to play this more often =) #pocolo

Tarana said...

Absolutely! As a child, I was never really bored because I was always making something up :)

Tarana said...

Thanks, glad you agree!

Tarana said...

From what I know of him, he's very imaginative!

Caroline said...

Great tips and it is amazing to see their imagination flourish, the last tip is particularly important, I sometimes feel I need to constantly come up with activities for Monkey but actually he has so much fun on his own doing random little things and is so cute! Xx #pocolo

Tarana said...

Yes, kids are so good at making up games!

Mike said...

I love the storytelling part the best, Tarana! That is what my blog is about today that I derived from my own childhood within me! :)

Ambika S said...

After reading this post, I remembered the time when my sons played with a cardboard box in versatile ways. They spread their toy cars in that and made a "car shop" one day, next day, it turned into a rocket and another day, it was "hibernation center" for bear. It went around for a month. Great post.

Let's Talk Mommy said...

These are great tips and sometimes I feel like my brain is fried and not able to be imaginative and that's what kids love the most so this is so helpful. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

Carin Kilby Clark said...

Love the tips... and especially let them be bored. I think we overschedule, overstimulate, and then wonder why kids are hyperactive these days. Great post!

Chris Carter said...

Those are really great tips. I would have loved to read this when my kids were younger. You always have such wise insights and great ideas, Tarana!

TheMissusV said...

Number 3! I need to work on this. I have to admit there are times when I nod and say uhuh but my mind is somewhere else. Tsk.

Tarana said...

Will hop over and read it!

Tarana said...

Thanks Ambika, cardboard boxes are the best!

Tarana said...

Glad you liked it, Jenny!

Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

So so agree that being bored makes for the best ideas!

Tarana said...

That's right, I really don't think kids should be over-scheduled.

Tarana said...

Thank you, Chris!

Tarana said...

Oh well, we all do it sometimes ;)

Tarana said...

That's right!

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