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.
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.
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:
Read books, tell stories and nourish imagination in practically every word. Get creative and change the action or story line.
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.
Old clothes are very useful for dress-up play.
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?