imaginative play

February Friendship #9: Kids Can Make Friends with Imagination

Not every child imagines a friend or playmate but all kids can make friends with imagination. It’s a powerful tool for playing and for thinking and feeling.boy-playingdinos

Imaginative play can happen any time and certainly anywhere. While the action is taking place in the mind, there is also action in the body. If you close your eyes and imagine you are flying, the muscles in your arm respond. You may notice the way your muscles are firing just as if they were actually moving. Thinking about going up in an elevator, our eyes go up. Athletes use the power of imagination to strengthen their muscles and skills.imaginative play
As parents, when we are explaining safety to kids, we often ask them to imagine what could happen to them if they are not careful. In social situations we might ask a child, “How would you feel if that happened to you?” We are asking kids to put their imaginations to work to help them see a situation from another person’s point of view.

We can use the link between bodies and brains to stretch and exercise imaginations. Here are some easy play activities from an article of mine in some parent information:

  1. Read books, tell stories and nourish imagination in practically every word. Get creative and change the action or story line.

  2. Sprinkle some magic dust into the everyday. The fork and spoon can have an adventure from the table to the dishwasher. The shirt in the laundry can “escape” and need to return to the basket. Is the bus going somewhere like the moon instead? The bathtub can be an ocean submarine. What does it see? Or maybe it’s a pirate ship.

  3. Old clothes are very useful for dress-up play.

  4. An empty box can be anything; after all, “It’s Not A Box.”


These are a few suggestions to inspire imaginative play. What are some other ways kids can make friends with imagination?

Kids Imaginary Journeys – New Year’s Word #9: J for Journey

What fun with kids imaginary journeys! Today’s new year’s resolution word goes on a journey with children’s author and Storytime Pup creator, Bill McManus. This is an on-line interview with Bill about both real and imaginative journeys. No need to pack, come enjoy the trip.


To start, I’d like to ask: What journeys did you take as a child in your imagination?

I grew up with 4 sisters and we were very close, especially with my sister MaryBeth and I.  My favorite memory was when we turned two saw horses in the basement into motorcycles.  Old blankets became the seats and a piece of Hot Wheels track was slid in place to be the handlebars.  We rode those motorcycles cross country.  We visited old ghost towns, forests, deserts and ended up on the beaches of California.

All five of us rode trains, horses, planes and even spaceships.  We were in the circus, road the open plains and even went to the moon.  All without leaving our own backyard.  All thanks to our active imaginations.

“How did that lead you to being an “author, entrepreneur, inventor and actor?”

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up.  So, our best “toys” were our imaginations.  The best “toy” you could ever have.  We learned to use and expand our imaginations to keep ourselves occupied.  I believe the use of our imaginations led us all to become quite creative.  My first children’s book “Doran’s Doorway Adventures” is born of the imagination.   I had a basic concept for a story and I just let my imagination take over.  I simply wrote down the story as it unfolded in my imagination.  I have dozens of books sitting in the back of my mind.


Invention is another form of imagination.  You look at a problem and let your imagination think outside the box to solve the problem.  You let your imagination run wild, without analyzing any ideas as they present themselves.  You just capture the ideas as they come and then look at the feasibility or the “how to”  afterwards.

Acting is just pretending.  You determine your character and just pretend to be them.

For some practical words of wisdom, parenting is a journey of discovery. As a parent of 3 kids, how do you take your kids on both real and imaginative journeys?

We spend as much quality family time as we can.  Trips to festivals, small towns, exploring the outdoors – anything and everything.  I began fostering imaginative play in my children early on.  From pretending to be on safari while camping in the backyard to Olympic sporting events in the pool.

What do you think is most important about kids experiencing new places?

There is a whole world of wonder out there.  Things can be so different from not only one country to another, but from one state or even one town to another.  There is so much to learn about people and things through experience.  You can only grow and experience so much in your own back yard.  You have to go out and experience life.  Go to parks, concerts and festivals.  Try new places, new foods and meet new people.  Life is all about experiences and what better way that with your children.

Anything else you would like to include?

Using ones imagination is so important.  Not just in childhood, but through your entire life.  Books help open one’s imagination.  Storytime Pup is a good tool to begin to expose children to the joys of reading  I hope to expand the imagination exercises on the Storytime Pup channel to teach children how fun it can be to just pretend.

Here’s the url for the Storytime Pup Channel:

Thank you, Bill. What fun to take this on-line journey.
And you, what kinds of kids imaginary journeys and real ones do you and your child take?



Boxes + Paper Tubes = Christmas Fun for Kids

Two very simple ingredients stirred with imagination cook up some another Advent play-of-the-day: boxes + paper tubes = Christmas fun for kids and families.

empty box play

In the midst of adults trying to wrap presents kids are enjoying another tradition, playing with the empty boxes and the long wrapping paper tubes. Combined with imagination, these two objects, used together or separately, call to children to come and play. Why are they so appealing to kids?

This is play where kids are like creative elves. “A plain, ordinary box comes with no limits, no instructions, and no expectations. Kids are in control in their own zone….A cardboard box is not empty; just like our kids, it is full of potential. With imagination it can be anything: a camper, a boat, a bus, a house, a spaceship, a hospital, a fort, anything. It can be transportation to anywhere and as big as the universe or it can be exactly where it is as a small, but safe and secure area. While a box is a defined space, it is flexible for the needs of the child.”

A wrapping paper tube has almost as many possibilities. Beyond that of the best head-bonker, a paper tube can be a pirate’s saber, a knight’s sword, a bridge, tunnel, telescope, a marble road, a tree, cane, or wand. It’s fun for riding like a cowboy’s horse or Harry Potter’s broom. Whatever it is, the choice belongs to the child.

empty box transportation play

Toys are a major item at this time of year. The lowly cardboard box is considered a toy and recognized in the U.S. National Toy Hall. While we can’t call imagination a toy, it is certainly part of play. While you are busy with other things, with a box and paper tube children can also be busy moving their bodies and stretching their brains. Boxes + paper tubes = Christmas fun because children can fill them with play. Isn’t play a wonderful gift to give a child?

Toy Kitchen Christmas Fun Adds Imaginative and Pretend Play to the Day

Toy kitchen Christmas fun cooks up play and learning for kids. Real kitchens are super busy now and kids often imitate what we do as they play. Toy kitchens are not just girl toys. Lots of boys enjoy playing in them as well. Since it’s Christmas, it might be elves playing in the kitchen anyway. … Continue reading Toy Kitchen Christmas Fun Adds Imaginative and Pretend Play to the Day

Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Imaginative play can help kids understand and cope with reality, so open up the tickle trunk—it’s time for some dragon dress-up pretend play. This play roars. A tickle trunk is just another name for the box, basket, old suitcase, or drawer that holds the collection of dress-up clothes and accessories. Halloween isn’t the only time … Continue reading Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

While water puts out a dragon’s fire, dragons sometimes live in castles which have moats and drawbridges so dragon water play is a possibility. Besides, even dragons must have sometimes needed a bath. Dragon water play can happen in the bath or with clothes on at the sink. We found some colorful, plastic dragons at … Continue reading Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Besides reading books about dragons, how about some imaginary dragon stories? Kids can make up their own dragon adventures tales or we can do it with them. Stories don’t always have to come from books. With a little bit of imagination, kids can tell a story too. Made-up stories can be about anything and happen … Continue reading Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves

In the song Puff the Magic Dragon, Puff slinks into his cave where he feels safe, so for today’s play, how about blanket forts for kids and dragons? Note the box of colored paper is the fire. Another word for blanket fort is GORF, short for good ol’ reliable fort. Making one isn’t hard, although … Continue reading Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves

Digging for Treasure: Dragon Sensory Imaginative Play

Treasure, whether dragon or pirate, sometimes gets buried and digging for treasure is fun for kids with some dragon sensory imaginative play. Adults too; think of gold digging or excavating. With their huge claws, digging is pretty easy for dragons. It’s harder for kids. If you live somewhere warm enough so the yard isn’t covered … Continue reading Digging for Treasure: Dragon Sensory Imaginative Play

Learning and Fun Bus Activities #3: Bus Pretend Play for Kids

What’s Powering the Bus? Imagination! Have imagination will travel; hop on with us for a bus pretend play activity for kids. Destination: wherever we want. Adults must be accompanied by kids. Pretend play happens anytime and anywhere with kids. Plus, they can turn anything into what they need. For bus pretend play, a few chairs … Continue reading Learning and Fun Bus Activities #3: Bus Pretend Play for Kids