Through the years, I’ve worked hard to encourage my children to use their imaginations. I have some children who are extremely creative, and others who are more gifted in other areas.
But regardless of how creative my children are, I’ve provided them with opportunity after opportunity to use the magnificent creative brains that God gave them.
I’d love to share some of these ideas and resources with you today, especially if you aren’t sure how to tap into your young child’s creative side!
→ Make sure you don’t miss yesterday’s post on Why We Make Imaginative Play a Priority in Our Home!
The #1 Thing I Do to Encourage Pretend Play
While there are several things that I do to encourage pretend play, there is one habit that soars above the rest:
I give them time.
While children can certainly play in little 2-5 minute increments, the best pretend play happens when ample amounts of time are available.
If we’re busy rushing from one activity to the next, there isn’t an opportunity to create an elaborate story about the log house my daughter just built with Lincoln Logs.
Children need time to get their ideas together, and then flesh them out, whether it’s building a block tower or creating a playdough birthday cake.
No one likes to be rushed, and this is especially true when it comes to pretend play!
If you’re a homeschool mom, make sure you leave lots (and lots!) of free time in your child’s day so they can create those blanket forts – and then have the chance to sit in them and play camp out.
Occasionally Give Suggestions for Pretend Play
Every once in awhile, we all need a fresh set of ideas. We might be feeling a bit uncreative, or possibly we’re just in need of a new perspective.
Kids that are home all day play with the same toys over and over, so it makes sense that they would occasionally need a fresh idea!
On occasion, I brainstorm a long list of different ways they can use their same old toys: pair the dollhouse with the train tracks and create a prairie-type town or use the Duplo blocks to build a zoo for the animal counters.
The possibilities are endless!
I will say, that I usually let pretend play be kid-guided. I don’t want to dampen any part of their creativity, and I only give ideas on the rare occasion.
Boredom often leads to some of their best ideas, and I am a firm believer that it’s perfectly find for kids to be bored.
Make Sure There are Many Play Choices Available
I’ll be honest that we are not big screen people. While my children do have computer time and the occasional TV time, it’s quite limited.
If their little eyes are on a screen for hours at the time, the creativity portion of their brains are essentially turned off for awhile.
And that’s just a tragedy to me!
So for birthday and Christmas presents, we almost always give toys to our kids that can be used for pretend play. By giving them as gifts, our children have an abundance of imaginative play toys from which to choose.
As well all know, however, pretend play does not have to include purchased toys.
You can easily encourage pretend play just by using items from around the house: sheets to build a blanket fort, a big cardboard box, measuring spoons and cups with any plastic dishes you might have, kid-safe gardening tools, or even kid-safe tools from dad’s tool box.
Be willing to wash the sheets after the fort building, or wash the plastic dishes once the “restaurant” has closed for the evening.
By making sure there are an abundance of pretend play items available, you’ll encourage the creative juices to just flow in your kiddos!
And it is such a joy to watch!
How do you encourage pretend play with your children?