Imagination is a powerful tool for children, according to many
play specialists, because it helps kids learn how to take on and
tackle life's circumstances. It's especially important for children
work through communication delays by allowing them to speak for or
through the stuffed doll, puppet or imaginary figure they
Often children with special needs require a concrete or familiar
model on which to base their imaginative play. In other words, it
might be easier for them to pretend to be the dog next door or the
doctor they visit rather than a monster or pirate or characters
they are not already familiar with.
Let's take a look at what an imaginative day of play might look
Nothing helps jump-start a child's imagination more than
costumes, because wearing them provides a perfect platform to
transition from reality into an imaginative world. Steal items from
your closets, including scarves, belts and hats, or invest in
pre-made costumes. Aeromax in Lake Barrington designs kid costumes
that last, are adjustable, easy to put on and care for like My lst
Career Firefighter for boys or the Junior Garden Fairy for
Start early and get kids involved in creating their own batch of
Name Your Own Soup. It's super-easy, super-healthy and tons of fun.
Start with a vegetable- or meat-base broth and add healthy
ingredients. But instead of usual suspects-carrots, beans, peas and
noodles-let your kids imagine what they are adding. Carrots can
morph into lizards and peas into baby toads.
Each time someone adds an ingredient, have them make up a name
for it and then make a silly sound as it hits the soup. Encourage
children to do plenty of stirring of the pot and their imagination
as they cook and come up with a name for their batch of healthy
Now it's time to turn creative and make masks. Ask the kids to
draw the face of their favorite character from a book or movie or
an animal they love. Bring out the brown paper bags from the
grocery store or construction paper and string. Be sure to provide
kids with nontoxic, washable paints and child-friendly scissors.
Creativity for Kids makes a Young Artists Texture Painting Set and
rounded-blade, spring-opening scissors called My First Scissors
that make painting and cutting easy and safe.
After masks are made, put on some "creative" music as kids act
out their characters. Encourage them to verbalize, burn energy and
play the role.
Invite both fun and imagination to dinner by serving your meal
onboard a ship. Use chairs from your kitchen or dining room to
create an enclosed space and railings of a sailing vessel. Drape
blankets or quilts to make the sides. Fill the vessel with your
child's favorite stuffed toys or play objects and take a dinner
cruise. Play soft music or get a tape of wave sounds for
You might even offer your child fish for dinner.
Carry the boat theme into the night by letting your child sleep
onboard. You can use sleeping bags, air mattresses or even invest
in the Tuck-Me-In Travel Bed by One Step Ahead-an inflatable,
portable bed that travels well, complete with curved walls to
secure little ones from tumbling out while sleeping. With
imagination, it looks like a life raft and you can use it for
travel or overnights in the future.
Catch the evening snack by fishing off the sides of the boat,
using a fishing pole made out of a bendy straw. Stick peanut butter
or cream cheese on the bent end for bait and pull fish crackers out
of a bowl (the sea). Sing boat songs ("Row, Row, Row Your Boat")
and whale-watch or read a book about them such as The Magic School
Bus book, The Wild Whale Watch.
Before you know it, the stars come out and sleep creeps in after
a wonderful day of imaginative play.
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