Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Giving our children opportunities to use their imagination is a fundamental part of their development and sounds like a simple thing to do. But sometimes thinking of new and exciting ways to do this, whilst engaging and exciting your child, can prove a challenge. I regularly get messages from exhausted parents, looking after one,two, three or more children and they ask me how I find the energy. The reality is, I am just the same, utterly exhausted, constant ‘to do’ list the length of my arm and enough daily washing to clothe an army! The aim of my Blog is to eliminate the element of ‘thinking of things to do’ and just inspire open-ended, creative play in your home, nursery, school etc. Hopefully, you’ll agree that this one is easy enough for any exhausted parent/nursery staff/teacher to set up.
- A laundry basket
- A Moses basket (you could just use two laundry baskets)
- Soft toys
- BUCKETS of imagination
Why is imaginative play so important? Imagination means your child can form a mental image of something that is not there. The ability to use imagination starts around the age of two. Children are then able to imagine that a box is a car or a banana is a telephone. It is commonly believed that using imagination is linked to creativity and intelligence. To enhance our child’s imagination, open-ended play is key. As well as developing imaginative play, open-ended activities develop social and emotional abilities, cooperation, problem solving, and is fantastic for developing speaking and listening. Playing with our children during open-ended, imaginative play shows them we believe in them and their play ideas and therefore builds their self-esteem.
When J was faced with the objects I’d laid out, he was quite stilted. He kept saying, I don’t know how to play! He was in one of those moods! I just ignored it though and said he should play whilst I fed G. I wanted him to be fully immersed in his world before I joined in! The play began with J locking the bears in a cage. You can see in the photo below that the laundry basket acted as the cage.
J was rescuing the bears by sailing there in his boat. I had a feeling he’d use it as a boat but I was definitely not expecting what it eventually was!
J rescued the bears and the cage became a safe place for them to stay. J set off on his journey and then the game changed…
J began marching around the room saying, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one…’ and so on. Suddenly J stopped and said, ‘I need something Mummy.’ He went off and collected the things he ‘needed.’
J came back and said he needed to paint and fix his boat and build something else. I asked him what but he giggled and said, ‘You’ll see Mummy!’
… hammering and mending…
…testing out materials…
… LOTS of material actually! (See I told you he loves these rainbow scarves! Best purchase EVER!)
J measured and cut wool (I have no idea what this was about as J was SO engrossed he refused to speak to me!) After one hour and twenty minutes of play (I’m not kidding) J eventually revealed what he’d been making!
J was now a ‘Bear Hunter’ and had made a ‘Bear Wagon’ to hunt the bears and make them ‘not nasty any more but like Care Bears!’
J continued to hunt bears and sit in his wagon for a further thirty minutes! Occasionally, he’d get out but J was well and truly in his own little world! He was so engrossed, so happy and so imaginative!
Who needs expensive toys when this little beauty was made all from the creativity of a three year old mind?! I also LOVE the fact he spontaneously linked the play to a story! Like mother, like son hey!