What do kids do after Christmas? They play with boxes! Was your floor covered with paper and boxes?
With all those new things for Christmas, adults can’t figure out the attraction of boxes, but kids are sometimes over-stimulated (!?!) and need to “debrief”. One of the ways they do this is with play where they make up the ideas and the rules. A plain, ordinary box comes with no limits, no instructions, and no expectations. Kids are in control in their own zone. So, let kids play with cardboard boxes before recycling and encourage their development and readiness for kindergarten.
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. This kind of play–being able to adapt an ordinary object for a specific purpose–is not just a childhood or kindergarten readiness skill. We all need to do this and we do it everyday.
Imagination and creativity don’t end with childhood–that’s where they start growing. Think of a cardboard box as nutrition for the spirit of play. Did you know that a cardboard box’s role as a toy is so recognized that it is included in the U.S. National Toy Hall? There are dozens of kids’ books written about playing with boxes, including this one A Box Can Be Many Things, and even some websites! How does your child play with boxes? (Could that be why some countries call the day after Christmas Boxing Day? 🙂
While we all encourage children to use their imaginations, there are better times than the middle of the night when imagined monsters hide under the bed. At school, when important notices never seem to make it all the home I often joke that there’s a monster in the backpack with an appetite for paper.
Using imagination is an important kindergarten readiness skill. Imagining exercises brains, making new pathways and more complex connections. Child development experts are finding that imagination is vital for understanding reality and other people. Imagination enables children to learn about things they haven’t experienced and to understand how another person is feeling.
For a readiness for kindergarten imagination activity, zip up your child’s backpack and talk about what could be inside. I found a fun book that has a monster in the backpack written by Lisa Moser, but you and your child can likely think of other things. Bottles have genies, maybe backpacks do too. What imagination fun is in your backpack?
Yesterday, I heard a radio interview with Joel Bakan about his new book Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children. He exposes the detrimental effects of this corporate marketing. One of his warnings in particular struck a chord with me, that of the destruction of children’s imagination. Imagining is not just play; it is a fundamental thinking and relationship skill! Encouraging readiness for kindergarten with imaginative play is today’s blog topic.
Kids often like to imitate adults in their play. Putting what we need to do on hold so that we can interact with our little ones isn’t always possible but sometimes we can combine the playing and working. While we are in the kitchen preparing meals can be one of those times. Kids can cook up something to feed to a teddy bear or other stuffie. Ingredients can be blocks, small toys, bits of fabric or crumpled paper. You and your child may want to pretend that you are the cooks in a restaurant or castle or robots, complete with ro.bot. voi.ces. (I have, on occasion, even asked my kids to pretend to like what I’ve made for dinner.)
Imagination is a very special ingredient for much more than kindergarten readiness. Can you add some to your child’s day?
There is no doubt that imagining is a form of play. Did you know it is also a very necessary thinking and relationship skill? When helping children learn good behavior choices we often ask them to think how the other person is feeling. In order to understand how someone else is feeling a child needs … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Camping is for Imagining
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