Imagine no Pretend Play
Albert Einstein once said “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” I’m sure he was oblivious to the importance of these words when it comes to the wonderful world of parenting.
As a Mum in a modern, fast moving world, I find my children have a lot more attractions and distractions to sway them away from Imaginary Play. Days when we have power outages are my favourite, these are when the blankets come out and the kids build cubbies using chairs. Or towels become wizards capes and wooden spoons are wands.
For anybody that has noticed, most pre schools or kindergartens have well equipped Pretend play area’s. This doesn’t happen by accident. Imaginary or Pretend Play is a very important part of a young child’s development. The great news is: it’s cheap to encourage this style of play. In fact most of what you need will be buried at the bottom of your wardrobe or around the house.
Go for a dig and find old shoes, wigs, oversized jackets and scarves. Even the most simple piece of material can be transformed into a Kings Robe or a Princess’s dress.
When your child pretends to be different characters they are looking at life through somebody else eyes. This helps create the moral skill of empathy. It also teaches about taking turns and sharing responsibilities. Sit back and watch your child’s self esteem blossom. They are discovering that they can be anything by pretending.
Setting up a shop: Grab some shopping bags, pantry items such as pasta and some canned goods, a purse with some coins. A simple cash register can be made with an old cereal box and felt pens. Taking turns being the customer or the shop keeper is fantastic for building language skills and their vocabulary bank.
Tea Parties or Restaurants:
Feeding or cooking for their stuffed toys or dolls is all about role sharing. Children love to imitate the important adults in their life. By pretending to be grown ups and carrying out jobs and responsibilities they learn how to solve problems through words and negotiation. This type of play stimulates the senses and improves creative thinking. All you need is: Second hand kitchen utensils. Pots and Pans, paper or plastic plates and cups. Allow your child to run riot in their Pretend Kitchen. Adding salt and pepper, tasting their simmering soup. Stirring and slicing. After the cooking is done, serve up the ‘food’ on the plates and sit down and enjoy.
With all these types of play problems arise. Therefore problem solving and cognitive thinking takes place. The problems could be two children who want to be the same character or what type of material to use to build a rocket ship. This is developing the skills for intellectual and emotional growth and widens their imaginations, not to mention what it is doing for their abstract thinking.
Most parents try to get their children ‘school ready’ by concentrating on the Numbers and Letters side of things, when the Imaginary world of children is also a very important way to help teach your children many life skills. It also introduces Pre Reading and Pre Writing. By providing your child with sufficient pens, pencils, magazines and different types of papers and books you are encouraging her natural drive to learn. You might see her reading to her dolls, or ‘writing’ a letter to Grandma. Why not both of you pretend to ring each other using an old phone and take down phone messages.
Some more simple ideas:
Doctors Office: . If you don’t have a toy Doctors Kit that’s fine. Most of the equipment can be found around the house. Some bandages, a plastic medicine syringe, band aids, a note book and pen for writing out prescriptions. Make a stethoscope using a toilet roll. You could take turns with your children on being the Dr and the Patient.
Car: This activity can be as simple as using something round (like a paper plate) as the steering wheel and using a lounge chair as the drivers seat. Or if you’d like to go for more creative: use an old cardboard box as a car, paper plates for steering wheels and tyres. Decorate with some felt pens. You’re ready to go.
Cave/tent: blanket, chairs and a torch. You can pretend that you have a camp fire and roast marshmallows. Take the torch and go exploring and see what can be found.
Puppets: grab a couple of old socks, stick on some eyes or draw them on. Some wool or paper cut up for the hair and you have some puppets. Perform a puppet show on a coffee table.
Making Musical instruments:
empty shoe box
ruler or stick
ruler or stick
Remove the cover from the box. Stretch the rubber bands around the box. Attach the ruler or stick to the back of the box on one end to act as the arm of the guitar.
To play, strum or pluck the rubber bands.
Art box with Clay, paint, threading, gluing, paper, pencils, crayons for making shop signs etc…
Recycling Box with magazines for cutting up. Keep cereal boxes etc….your children can use the items for making a shop or to make a robot. All part of the fun. It’s up to their imagination.
Have dress ups for certain people. Ie: an eye patch for a pirate, a cowboy hat and a hobby horse. Newspaper hat for a sailor.
Wooden blocks : can be made into a service station for the car or a farm for their animals.
Hold a Pretend Birthday Party. Invite all the stuffed toys and dolls, wrap up some presents. Pretend food can be made from play doh. Maybe real candles could be used on the cake. To make the party more fun, turn on some music and dance.
Don’t forget the most important rule: Have fun and let everybody’s imagination run riot!!