Your child is naturally imaginative. It comes with the territory of childhood. Children need this imagination in order to employ their natural language of play and turn toys and everyday items into living, breathing beings through whom they can express their emotions, curiosities and ponderings. An active imagination is something to be celebrated and encouraged in children and there are a number of ways to engage your child’s imagination to help foster creative exploration and expression.
5 Ways to Engage Your Child’s Imagination
- Puppet play. No better way for a child’s imagination to be fired up and active than through creating and playing with puppets. The good news is that store-bought puppets are not necessary. You can turn most anything into a puppet. Your child’s toothbrush might become a puppet begging for the chance to take a peek inside your child’s mouth and tickle her teeth. A shoe might come alive, begging to hop on your child’s foot and take a ride with him to school in the morning in order to gain cooperation. With some markers, yarn and glue, you can turn a paper lunch sack into a poppet or a spare white sock will do as well. Puppets are a way for children to engage their imagination, suspend reality and enjoy exploring feelings, preferences and yearnings.
- Set up a sandbox. You can use a large box trimmed to size, a plastic bin or a baby pool in the back yard. Fill it with play sand and introduce a wide collection of toys, scoops, random household items and watch your child’s imagination create worlds of activity. Join with your child but let your child be the lead in whatever imaginary world they may wish to create.
- Visit a creek. With plenty of safety-supervision, a creek can be a universe to explore for your child. Pull on the rain boots and get ready to get a little wet. All the rocks, fallen leaves, sticks and flowing water at the creek naturally provide children with invitation to imaginary play while connecting with you and nature
- Introduce a big, empty box. Add some markers to the mix and see what your child creates! Invite creativity. Wonder aloud what this box might be turned into. Let your child’s imagination lead the way.
- Provide a expressive supply station. Let there be a special place in the center of your family’s life activity such as a corner of the kitchen or living room where a table is set up equipped with all kinds of creativity supplies. Fill empty coffee cans with markers, paint brushes and colored pencils. Small containers for eco-friendly glitter, cotton balls, and stickers can add to the fun along with blunt safety scissors, stacks of colored paper and maybe some googly eyes. Don’t worry about mess. Creativity can be messy and children need to feel free in order to engage their imagination.
Children will naturally engage in imaginary play and it’s up to the adults in the child’s life to delight in this kind of play, encouraging creative exploration and expression. Understanding this play is the language of children can really help you to understand how finding ways to engage your child’s imagination goes along with excellence in parenting.