Promoting Imaginative Play – With and Without Toys

Over the last few years, there’s been nothing better than watching The Little One develop her vivid imagination, showing creativity, independence and confidence as she has explored the world around her. As a baby she was fascinated by colours and textures. Now, nearing four, it’s all about adventure and role play. As a parent, one of the best things I’ve done is to promote imaginative play, yes, even allowing her to get bored, so that it spurs her inventiveness. It’s amazing what she can do with the sofa cushions – a hidden den or snow capped mountains or a princess castle

With Christmas around the corner, you may be thinking about gift ideas that will help to encourage the development of your little one’s imagination and while there are plenty of options on the market, children don’t always need toys to show how inventive they are – their minds are the greatest asset they’ll ever need; simply watch how they might transform the stones or leaves in the garden into cars or family members with the flick of a thought, or how grass, mud and water becomes daring potions….

Here are some great ways in which you can help your child to use their imagination.

  • Provide plenty of toys that can help to nurture their creativity, include role play toys and play sets that tip their hat to familiar situations, such as the Little People House and Farm. Let them play independently, with siblings and friends, or join in yourself, to help build their communication, language and social skills.
  • Keep a well-stocked dressing up box, complete with outfits and accessories that they can sieve through whenever they feel like it. Add to the box whenever you feel you can; use things that you may already have in your home, including bags, boas and bangles.
  • Take a walk outside, yes, even when the clouds look threatening, collect flowers, twigs, and stones. Make a nature table, or a beautiful picture, get your little one thinking about the seasons and the weather.
  • Read books together, or start to tell a story and ask them to finish it. Take it in turns to pad the story out and make up a tale like no other!
  • Arrange to meet up with friends who have children, or organise a play date with their friends from school to encourage social interaction, sharing and empathy.
  • Play with your children often and provide ideas for them to build on. And let them get bored – this will stretch them, and help build their confidence, resilience and trust in themselves – they have all the tools needed to create their world.

I love playing with The Little One. It’s my favourite thing in the world. I get to be a big kid again, enjoying the spontaneity, being in the moment. Imagination and play is all about building intelligence. I think I may have added a few brain cells since 2010!

This post was written in collaboration with Fisher Price and Book People.

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