imaginative play

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.

magical childhood blanket forts

Another word for blanket fort is GORF, short for good ol’ reliable fort. Making one isn’t hard, although it can take a long time. That’s a big part of the fun. There are some super easy blanket forts. One of the fastest is to spread a big tablecloth, sheet, or blanket over a table and let the sides hang down to the floor. Four chairs also work. Put 2 chairs in a row and leave some space in between them. Place 2 other chairs back-to-back to the first ones and move them a couple of feet away.  Drape a blanket over the backs of the chairs. An ironing board can also be recruited but it doesn’t make a very big one unless it’s used with something else. The infographic below shows how to make one from the cushions on the sofa. Really, kids will use anything, even a big cardboard box.

blanket fort

Once kids have a fort then comes the next stage, that of rounding up stuff from all over the house to put in it. What might a dragon need in a fort? Pillows, more blankets, some stuffies, a stack of books, an assortment of plastic dishes, containers for cooking, and whatever else appeals at the moment. While this can and often does create a mess, it’s limited to one area, so it’s not so bad.

childrens imagination power

Why blanket forts for kids? Well, like the dragon, a fort or cave is a child’s own space. Kids make up the rules for what happens inside. They control and direct the play. Taking on the world is overwhelming for kids, but a small space within the boundaries of the fort limits uncertainty. At the same time, the space inside the fort is unlimited, in terms of imagination. It can be anywhere at any time. Kids can be anything or anyone they choose. Maybe even a dragon?

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.

sensory play digging

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 in rain or snow, kids can play in the sandbox. If not, this can be done inside too. For indoor play, fill a large bowl or other container with kinetic sand. You can find recipes to make your own at home using sand, cornstarch, liquid soap, and water. There are lots of recipes on line.

Either inside or outside, the first thing is to find some small items to be treasure. Some suggestions are small stones, plastic figurines, spools from thread, beads, and play coins. For outside sand boxes these can be larger than for play inside. Since all the sand will be in a container, it’s possible to put in some real coins, like a quarter or two and smaller things like marbles and plastic colored gems. With your child, count the treasure so you know when it’s all found. You can also use a cupcake tin or an egg carton. Before burying, put one treasure in each section. If there’s an empty space later something is still hiding in the sand.

sensory play sand

Kids like to both bury the treasure and then find it. Shovels are great for sand boxes and spoons will do for bowls. Fingers can also dig and sift through the sand. If you have an old strainer, kids can pour in shovelfuls or spoonfuls of sand. A few shakes, the sand sifts out, and all that’s left is the treasure.

This dragon sensory imaginative play activity combines sensory play and make-believe. Skin gets to feel the sand, eyes both see the the treasure and get to seek it. There’s some stimulation for hearing but not much for smell and none for taste—we hope. Kids can imagine they are looking for dragon treasure or they might want to be the dragon who is burying it. Plus, thinking skills like problem-solving and concentration come into play. Kids are communicating and working to achieve a goal, that of finding the treasure. For kid-dragons, isn’t the best treasure the play itself?

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.

bus pretend play

Pretend play happens anytime and anywhere with kids. Plus, they can turn anything into what they need. For bus pretend play, a few chairs are useful and often kids will place them in a line to be the rows on the bus. Whoever is the driver, places hands out in front to steer the imaginary wheel. Likely for back-to-school, photocopy paper came in boxes that looked like buses. Little Sister could hardly wait to get in the box and start playing.

Nearly every time we get in the car, Little Sister wants to sit in the driver’s seat and pretend she’s driving. Especially during the preschool years, young kids don’t feel like they have much power at all. Adults get to say when kids stay home, where they go, and what they do. Kids can express their feelings about the situation—and they often do so loudly—but they don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. It’s no wonder they like to pretend being in charge. Bus drivers do more than steer the bus, they get to say where it’s going and ask people for their ticket or money. School buses don’t have money but they still have drivers.bus pretend play

Bus pretend play can be simple with one child pretending to be the driver and another child or stuffed animal to be the passenger. Some children may make tickets and use bottle caps or other items for money. They will often suggest to whoever is playing with them when it’s time to get on and off. With two or more children, there will likely be a great deal of negotiating and planning. That’s part of the play. Kids can play pretend bus with toys too.

The only action we see might be a lot of wiggling and hand movement as kids vigorously drive their bus. On a brain level, there is a tremendous amount of planning, remembering, and connecting what kids already know to feelings and emotions they imagine are appropriate in the real situation.

bus pretend play

Children as young as two will engage in pretend play. It meets a need for adults too. For the young-at-heart, some actors have been pretending and imagining on stage, in movies, and television for almost a century. After all, with imagination we can go everywhere. Einstein proclaimed it’s more powerful than knowledge.

For a fun and imaginative play-of-the-day, how about some bus pretend play?bus-123krg

Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

According to Einstein, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” Therefore, a powerful activity for preparing kids for school is pretend play. We can’t see from the outside but as kids engage in pretend play their brains are seriously working. Brains are connecting different bits of information kids already know to actions and emotions. For example, … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

Space Activities #11: Space Pretend Play

As Einstein said, “Imagination will take you everywhere,” so for a play-of-the-day, kids can blast off with some space pretend play. Space pretend play doesn’t necessarily require any materials, but kids might want to have a few things. A space suit is beyond most dress-up tickle trunks, although kids are great at turning a small … Continue reading Space Activities #11: Space Pretend Play

Space and Imaginative Activities #4: Lego Space Play

Did you hear that 3 Lego characters traveled all the way to Jupiter? Their adventures inspire some Lego space play for today’s play-of-the-day. Three Lego figurines, made of special aluminum and tested for space, finally made it to Jupiter. Their journey has been 5 years and 1.7 billion miles long. While the Lego people that … Continue reading Space and Imaginative Activities #4: Lego Space Play

#21: Construction and Transportation Imaginative Play

Construction and transportation imaginative play appeals to kids of various ages, stages, and interests.  Pretending is a vital part of development. Kids will play with only cars, trucks, and other transportation toys without anything else. Well, without other kinds of toys that is, but with their own actions and  imagination. Although it sounds like a contradiction, … Continue reading #21: Construction and Transportation Imaginative Play

Kids Play with Anything #24: Child’s Play with Imagination

The ultimate in playing with anything other than toys, is child’s play with imagination. Imaginative play not only doesn’t need toys, it can happen with nothing. About 18 to 24 months, we can see children engaging in pretend or imaginative play. This might be talking on a phone, using a spoon to feed a stuffie, … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #24: Child’s Play with Imagination

Kids Play with Anything #21: Child’s Play with Recycled Materials

How can stuff in the recycling basket or box be more appealing than toys? Somehow, kids will play with anything including play with recycled materials. Boxes, plastic containers, paper, cardboard rolls, cotton stuffing, coffee cups, foil pie tins, empty cartons, styrofoam trays, corks, and many other things are all treasures for kids and play. The … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #21: Child’s Play with Recycled Materials

Kids Play with Anything #18: Play with Old Clothes/Dress-up Play

While there are wonderful costumes and dress-up clothes available to buy, kids will also play with old clothes. Dress-up play is a timeless favorite. Figuring out ourselves and other people is a challenge, not just for kids but for grownups too. When kids put on clothes or costumes they don’t usually wear, they are also … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #18: Play with Old Clothes/Dress-up Play