Posted in Education, Family, parenting, toddlers

Imaginative Play

I don’t understand why LARPing isn’t a job. As an adult, it’s hard to get away with it sometimes, but that’s the beauty of having children! 

There are a lot of advantages from imaginative play for your kids. Part of early literacy education stresses the PLAY factor. Most parents don’t think of playing as a form of learning but it most definitely is.

“Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven.”- Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph. D.
For one thing, imaginative play requires problem solving and creative thinking skills. Building things, designing a playhouse, making a blanket fort; all require your child to use their problem solving skills to make something that will actually work as a fort.

Children use role playing and dramatic play as a way to understand things they have seen. Usually, kids want to pretend to be people they have seen in real life (nurse, veterinarian, doctor, teacher, parent, etc) or people they have read about or seen on TV (knights, princesses, scientist, etc). They may also want to play by doing…what you do everyday. Cooking, cleaning, going to the grocery store, all the tasks you may think are completely mundane may actually be really fun for your child.


By pretending to be these people they are learning more about them. This teaches them flexibility and gives them an understanding of other people. They may also use this to understand things that scare them. For instance, many times you see a child playing doctor you will see them give a shot. This is because the idea of getting shots is scary to most children and they are working out the situation for themselves.

Imaginative play also helps your child to improve on their communication skills. They will be speaking about things and using words while playing that maybe they wouldn’t know otherwise. They also need to communicate their ideas and what they want to play to you or to other children.


For some parents, coming up with imaginative play ideas is easy. For others, it’s a struggle. Below are some ideas to get you started and help you bring imaginative play into your home.

 

COOKING/KITCHEN

If you don’t have fake food/kitchen tools, do yourself a favor and get some. A play kitchen can occupy a kid for hours. It’s a great learning tool too. They learn colors, vocabulary, numbers, how to sort, problem solving. There are so many cool ideas out there for creating a play kitchen too.

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You don’t have to just buy a brand new one from WalMart. My husband and I built a small lemonade stand style play kitchen for my daughter when she was one, and she still uses it.

(She was still in a big Winnie the Pooh phase so the stand says “Time for something sweet”- I know it’s adorable…okay moving on)

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DOCTOR/VET

I always thought that all kids hated going to the doctor. My daughter has since proved me wrong; however, a lot of kids do hate going but LOVE to play doctor. It’s something they Vet-Clinic-Dramatic-Play-Activity-1024x683know and something that is fun for them to pretend. Playing doctor or veterinarian can be as simple as giving a stuffed animal a check up. Or you can get dressed up and play out having the plague, the whole nine yards. This site has free printables for pretend play that I think are amazing and worth checking out.

 

 

KING/QUEEN/KNIGHT/PRINCESS

Some of the play castles I have seen online make me extremely sad my house isn’t bigger. However, even with lack of space, playing castle is pretty easy. You can find many items online on purchasing or making a play castle, most are relatively reasonable too. If you don’t want the whole castle, or don’t have the room, then just make some of the accessories.

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Some ways to play would be to save the princess (or fairy, or
king, or anything else). Have one person be the dragon and “take” the princess. The other must steal her back. Have sword fights (with paper or cardboard swords preferably.

 

 

 

SUPERHEROES 

Obviously, not just for boys anymore. Any kid likes to be a superhero. Again, this can be as easy as making a mask out of a paper plate. Creating a brand new superhero just for your child is a fun way to go about it. But if they really love a certain character than try to capture that.

Superheros may be an imaginative play game you want to take outside (you don’t have to, but flying can get iffy indoors).

 

SCHOOL
Playing school is one of my favorites because I’m a nerd. But your child may actually love to play it. Especially if they have an older sibling they see going to school. Playing school can mean your child is the teacher, and “reads” you a book. Basically they can make up a story to go with pictures in one of their books.

If you have a child chalkboard or dry erase board, then that’s a great way to play school. You can even have snack time and recess during your imaginative play time!


This is a great article with some more ideas.

 

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Posted in Christmas, DIY, parenting

Make Believe Toys

I had a play kitchen growing up. It wasn’t much of a kitchen but it had an oven, a microwave, some stickers that represented burners and knobs and gadgets. I also had a Sesame Street table right next to it. Whenever family or friends came over I would make them a nice meal, sometimes play dough spaghetti to help the effect, sometimes an empty plate.

What got me thinking about it is the fact that Christmas is coming (yeah I know I JUST did a fall post but I’m one of those people…) and I want to get/make something for Riley to enhance her imagination at play time. Her father and I decided due to money (and to the fact we think it would be cool for her have something we made) we are going to create a cafe/tea table.

It made me think to do a post because it is a challenge finding DIY Make Believe toys other than a kitchen for girls or a workbench for boys! But there’s so much out there that could be turned into some sort of stand up toy for your child to really get into their playing. Here is a list of ideas we had before settling on the cafe which I hope will turn out like this (Scroll down to the cafe).

 

 

Is is similar to a kitchen? Yeah kind of but at least it’s a little bit different. I understand that toddlers like to do things that they see their parents doing (ie the kitchens, play vacuums, play cars, ect) but there are other examples of this other than cooking. I only cook three hours a week tops so if Riley is trying to imitate me a kitchen is not where she should be!

Some ideas:

 

Vanity: there are a lot of cheap vanities at WalMart and on Amazon but a homemade one would be great for a little girl. I like the idea of having a vanity/dress up closet combo. These people did a great job and it’s a very simple design.

(If this is yours please let me know I will link your page)

Garden: I was torn between the cafe and a play garden to be honest. The play garden has so many learning possibilities to go with it! A Beautiful Mess has a tutorial on making a felt garden like pictured. But you can definitely add to make the garden a play area. We were going to make a play potting station with an area to hang her tools, different flower and plant toys, a little window box to “plant” flowers, and the list goes on rDIY Felt Garden Boxeally. diy little girls room | DIY Indoor Window Boxes for little girl's room | Oh BABY!

Campground: I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the play canvas tents all over etsy and Pinterest. Well why not create a little play campground. You could have an area for the fire, have play logs to collect, a blanket on the ground next to it for a picnic, and have a great place to read and tell stories.

Play store: one of the coolest I saw by far was this play farmer’s market stand.

Home made kids store.  My kids would love this & not hard to make, but great for the imagination!

It was really tempting to try this but I just don’t think we are talented enough to pull this off correctly.

There are also tons of cool ideas for play kitchens to build/make if you go through Google or Pinterest so if you want your kid cooking then let them cook! I will say, some of the outside mud kitchens that I saw were amazing. Might have to wait until spring for that now.