Encouraging imaginative play takes a little bit of effort. Most children need a little bit of help to get them started when playing imaginatively but there is simply nothing better than watching and listening to your child happily engrossed in play. Erin is currently really enjoying role play with her dolls and this does require some adult input before she is on her way. So the question is ‘How to encourage imaginative play?
Like many things I believe that appearance plays its part. Setting the scene, sparking ideas and a little bit of planning pays dividends as the child can then often play independently and you don’t get the I’m bored catcall that is the bain of parents lives! children aged 5/6 use their imagination to play imaginative games and this builds their social skills and their language skills. Often you will hear the children taking on different roles and interacting with each other.
- To encourage imaginative play I will set the scene up and make it an invitation to play. This involves setting up her Sylvanian houses ready for Erin to come in and play with them. I have found that by doing this Erin will enjoy playing with her sets and play with it all for longer.
- Secondly I will sometimes get something extra special set up. This weekend we used insta snow that we bought last year to make a huge tray of snow. Insta snow is great fun, you simply add some water and it swells to become snow. Children love the sensory play it provides and can transform a game. I made the snow for Erin and placed her little Frozen figures around and in the snow and she then spent a good hour playing with the figures, chatting all the while. The insta snow lasts a few days and Erin enjoyed playing it the following day with her friend.
- Another way we encourage imaginative play is using YouTube. Yes that is right! Erin watches other people playing with their Disney Princess dolls and it gives her ideas to how she can play with hers. She often now recreates and then develops the scenes she has seen. This is great for developing her vocabulary too as she chats as she plays. Erin is very bright and playing like this certainly aids her imagination.
- Another resource we use is StoryCubes. Erin uses these both at school and home, they are dice with images and you roll them and then make up stories using the images on the dice. This is really fun and encourages silly stories and games to happen.
We have really enjoyed watching the TV series on ‘The secret lives of five year olds’ Erin’s older siblings have laughed and laughed watching the children and we have seen many things that Erin does in the other children. It demonstrates how child developmental works and that most children go through the same stages.