The early years of a child’s life are extremely important in their development, and everything, even down to the way they spend their play time will help to shape them.
Sparking imagination in your child is a great way for them to develop their creativity, independence, problem solving and more, so we got in touch with some top mummy bloggers for their opinions on the best ways to get your children to put down the iPad and actually play!
“Both my sons love imaginative play, be it inventing games outdoors (we live in the countryside), transforming our garden into an imaginary zoo or home to dinosaurs, to den making, arts and crafts and even playing charades. Both boys enjoy drama lessons and storytelling activities… A game we like to play before bedtime is our self-titled Big Storybook Game where I kick start a story and Oliver and Alexander take it turns to progress the plot along. We’ve actually created the funniest and most empowering story titled Ninja Mama about a mum with superpowers, thanks to the boys using their imaginations.
“The more you encourage imaginative play, the easier and more natural it becomes. Creativity is so fun and will inspire them to learn and thrive at school and in life.”
“Get down and play with the kids too. They will be far happier playing post offices or shops if they have a customer to serve. Set up a café using real plates and cups (they can of course be plastic) and let the children make lunch for you. It’s amazing just what they can create from Play-Doh or household items. Think outside of the box or in fact. use that box to become your dolls bedroom, dolls house or even a farm.”
“My top tip for encouraging imaginative play would simply be not to provide too many other toys! If a child is forced to rely more on their own imagination, then they will come up with all kinds of activities and games, so don’t feel like you have to provide stuff. If you feel bad about leaving them completely empty handed, why not put together a box of prompts, like wooden spoons, old packaging and bits of fabric? You’ll save money and space this way too!”
“Encourage imaginative play by providing some ‘blank canvas toys’ like a big roll of old wall paper or a cardboard box, and challenge your child to create you a surprise. Provide them with some staple craft supplies like tape and scissors, then give them lots of space to let their imagination run wild. You will be amazed.”
“My children have always enjoyed playing with household items. Give them some pans from the kitchen and they are either cooking up a birthday cake for a tea party or pretending they are in the latest band with their new drums. It’s lovely to see simple things spark their imaginations.”
“Sit down on the floor and play with your child (perhaps drawing). Let them take the lead and let their imagination soar.”
“My top tip for imaginative play is be brave enough to let them be bored. Turn off the electronics, get on with some chores and let them make up their own fun. I think that parents have so much pressure on them to always be providing entertainment that kids don’t often get left to make play for themselves.”
“My top tip for encouraging imaginative play is that everyday objects are great for imaginative play. For example, pillows and seat cushions can make great dens. Get down to your children’s level and join in!”
“My number one tip for encouraging imaginative play would be… let them get bored! As parents, we have a habit of over scheduling our children and a lot of us feel pressured to provide constant stimulation and activities. By doing this we never allow our kids to find ways to entertain themselves.
“By letting them get bored you are allowing them to use their own imagination and create their own fun. This enables them to feel empowered and in control of their own lives, which is a great skill for later life.”
“Our top tip would be to create lots of child-friendly spaces both inside and outside. Let children have ownership of their spaces to create and use as they wish. Have shelves with baskets of open ended objects easily accessible, such as scarves or lengths of fabric; wooden kitchen utensils; plastic dinosaurs, animals and people; balls, hula hoops, cones and string, and let their imagination go wild.
“Add in a few special toys, such as dolls, a pram, toy cars and wooden blocks and the possibilities are endless.”
“I have always loved giving my children coloured wooden building blocks or a treasure basket full of random items like yoghurt pots, string, sponges, brushes, or any odd thing that you find around the home and letting them decide for themselves.
“It can be so easy as a parent to give them a toy and to take over, saying things like ‘let’s build a castle’ or ‘let’s play hairdressers’ but if you sit back and let your child take the lead, they have a wealth of imagination and will feel proud that they have instigated play.
“What we see as a yoghurt pot, they might see as a walkie talkie or a portal to another dimension. I sometimes wish I could have the imagination of my kids, I feel dull in comparison!”
“My top tip is to allow children the time to be bored – don’t fill their days with planned activities and outings. It’s usually when they don’t have anything to fill the time that they’ll start to let their imaginations run wild.”
“My top tip is to give children a small prompt or idea, such as creating a menu for setting up a pretend café, a blackboard for school role play or a small world set up, then allow lots of time for the children to play and explore by themselves.”
“My number one tip for encouraging imaginative play is to keep things to a minimum and provide just one or two simple toys that offer a variety of role playing scenarios. As they often say, boredom is often the key to creativity because you have to think out of the box and the same can be applied to children and imaginative play.
“This is often why a stick and a cardboard box provides more hours of play than a one dimensional toy that makes noises and is overly colourful but is limited to what else it can be. Things like building blocks, doctors sets and dolls are fantastic options as they offer so many opportunities for a child to create their own storyline and their own world.”