Today we have a guest post from Best Years LTD. A fantastic ethical online toy shop, they share ideas for imaginative play ideas for kids.
Albert Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and there is no doubt that the experts all agree how good imaginative play is for children. So what is imaginative play and why is imaginative play so important? Imaginative play is basically play which is unstructured and open-ended. There are no set rules, or timescales and no winners or losers.
Child Development Play
Imaginative play is important because although it has no rules it is an important factor in your child’s development of social skills and problem solving.
Imaginative play effectively puts your child in to someone else’s shoes as they pretend to be a different character, whether that’s taller or shorter, younger or older. It is also a form of cooperative play, as they learn how to take turns.
Imaginative play is a great way to increase children’s language skills as they act out scenarios which require different words to their normal life.We know that imaginative play is great for development but after a long hard, winter lockdown how can we encourage Imaginative play?
Ideas and Activities for Imaginative Play and When to Start
Many parents are running out of ideas for imaginative play and what toys encourage Imaginative play. Also how can you branch out from the inevitable tea parties and encourage imaginative play which is interesting for everyone in the family?
12 to 18 month old child
Firstly, it’s good to know that imaginative play actually starts in children as young as 12-18 months. At this stage it’s very simplistic, they can do just pretend play one action at a time, so pretend play to eat or drink. Toys need to replicate the actual object, e.g. look like a plastic toy spoon for full educational benefits,this kind of play is great for hand eye coordination too
18 months – 2 years old child
By 18m – 2 years old they will start to make simple pretend play games, they may feed their doll, or fly an airplane around above their head. They will act out what they see their parents do, for instance talk on the telephone or have a cup of tea.
2 – 3 years old child
By the time they are 2- 3yrs old children can act out a series of pretend play actions. They can pretend to make a cake by mixing things in a bowl, putting it in to an oven and then serving it on a plate. They can imagine that similar shaped objects are different things a toy ball could be used in play as an orange.
3 – 5 years old child
3 to 5 year old is a peak time for imaginative play. They are now developed enough that they can invent imaginary worlds. They can also involve friends in their pretend and act out different roles during the play. They will use language a lot more, so if pretending to be a scientist they will talk about experiments.
So if you are juggling children of different ages imaginative play is a great way to involve them all in a game.
Rough and Tumble Play with Young Children
Don’t worry if your imaginative play involves a bit of rough and tumble. Research has shown that this sort of play helps develop the frontal lobe that regulates behaviour. Rough play can help children to learn when and how this sort of play is appropriate.
The great news is that pretty much all toys can encourage imaginative play, but the best toys are teddies and other soft toys and of course cardboard boxes!
What Childs Play activities don’t contribute to imaginative play?
There are only a few toys which should be avoided, specifically any toy which is close-ended, so there is a specific way to do something, and a pre-determined end result. A good example of this is a Lego kit which is made to a specific design and which creates a specific item.
Electronic toys are also not helpful as the child is steered towards button pressing to make noises or make lights flash rather than imagination.
In order for imaginative play to be enjoyable it must include toys that interest your children, and there is one thing that all children are fascinated with, Dinosaurs!
Most children love dinosaurs and they also love to stomp and roar but here are some suggestions to make dinosaurs more of imaginative play.
Imaginative Dinosaur make believe ideas and role play for kids
Create a Jungle Scene and Cardboard Box Cave with your children
Bring out your dinosaur toys and arrange/hide them about the room. If you have some potted plants these can create a fabulous jungle scene, and a cardboard box makes a great cave
Create Binoculars to encourage role play with your kids
Roll up paper in to tubes (or use loo roll tubes sellotaped together) to make binoculars. Hide the dinosaur toys so they can become explorers creeping through the jungle finding Pterodactyl and T Rex.
Child’s Play Hunting and Hiding
Cut out Dinosaur feet from cardboard boxes, so your kids are now the dinosaurs either hunting or hiding from the other dinosaurs. If your child is old enough then the positioning of the dinosaurs can be related back to the characteristics of each dinosaur, so if it’s a herbivore like the stegosaurus it can be among the plants, if it’s a winged dinosaur such as a pterodactyl it can be up high, but if it’s a hunter, like the t Rex then it will be out in the open.
Encourage Creativity and Educational Experiences with Dinosaur Olympics
Dinosaur Olympics – what games would dinosaurs have had in their Olympics? You can make this more educational by researching which dinosaur toy can run the fastest, or your kids can invent new dinosaur themed competition.
For more ideas we recently recorded a podcast on the Importance of Child Led Play
Carla is the founder of MyBump2Baby. Carla has a huge passion for linking together small businesses and growing families. Carla’s humorous, non-filtered honesty has won the hearts of thousands of parents throughout the UK.
She has previously written for the Metro and made appearances on BBC News, BBC 5 live, LBC etc. Carla is a finalist for Blogger of the Year award with Simply Ladies inc. Carla is also the host of the popular Fifty Shades of Motherhood podcast and The MyBump2Baby Expert podcast.