Screen time is taking over more than ever before, yet with a little direction you can increase imaginative play for your children with these easy tips!
1. Tell stories. Stories connect us through generations, whether you are reading from a beloved book or making up stories of your own. One of our favorite games to play is for my children to come up with characters and items they want me to include in a story I am telling them. Then we will swap roles and I will come up with a few things I want them to include in a story they tell me. I will often use people and places they are familiar with and then weave in ideas that perhaps they have never thought of before. You could also play “add on” where each person takes a piece of the story and continues the story line how they would like. Story telling teaches your child how to create a world within their mind that they can then use for their play time later. It also teaches them about cause and effect, character building, and overall development of their understanding of the world.
2. Limit screen time. It is unreasonable to expect a child to have no screen time as we now live in the day and age of technology. It is important that they know how to work an iPad, screen, or computer, but chances are your child is getting enough to be proficient. When a child spends too much time in front of a screen that is telling them a story they are engaged in passive entertainment which can limit the growth of their imaginative play and creativity.
3. Invite friends over to play. My children come to life in a way I have a hard time explaining when they are playing with a trusted friend. Everything becomes 10 times more exciting when a friend comes over to play and they can rediscover their toys together. It also invites the opportunity to create in new social spheres where they can practice sharing, role playing, and teamwork. I have a rule when the kids are with a friend that the majority of their time together is tech-free. Its embarrassing to say that sometimes this seems difficult for them at first. Let them be uncomfortable for a bit! Learning to use your creative muscles takes practice and time. It is worth it.
4. Get crafty. Children will naturally feel more creative when they are using their hands and some type of creative element. Think paints, bubbles, play-doh, slime, dirt, sand, beads, crayons, markers, or water. Mixing elements together can be just the right step to take the fun to a higher level. Have you ever made your own crayons, or created your own bubbles? Small science experiments or cooking in the kitchen can bring imagination to life and make your child’s inhibitions in the kitchen melt away.
5. Choose the right toys. Start play out right by finding toys that are open for interpretation! This could be blocks, play dough, figurines, dolls, barbies, cars, race ways, etc. If your child loves to role play you may want to invest in dress ups, pretend food, or items that they show particular interest in that isn’t found in the toy aisle. One of our favorite new toys is Oball’s new collection of Go Grippers! My son is obsessed with a race track that is at Grandma’s house and I have been on the lookout for a raceway that would be easy for him to manage and not take up a big amount of space when set up. I liked the one she had at home but it was really small, but I didn’t want to go too big because I don’t like the hot wheel tracks that take up an entire room when set up.
We decided to host a little impromptu play date with some cousins and we had so much fun enjoying these toys. As they were playing they thought it was fun to play like they were construction workers and had a full operation in play in no time.