Imaginative Play – Why it’s Great for Parents!

April 10, 2012

Imaginaitve play

In case you haven’t noticed, I really like imaginative play.
Lucky for me, so do my kids!

Kids learn so much from imaginative play.

It is an holistic type of play, covering all areas of develop and allowing the child to focus on and learn whatever he or she is most interested in or ready for at that moment. Learning is not isolated to one narrow, adult directed area as children practice and learn to integrate a wide variety of skills including; sharing, problem solving, maths and literacy skills, innovation, language, negotiation, concentration, working together, fine and gross motor skills and much more. Imaginative play is also a fabulous way for children to manage stress, to cope with difficult situations and to make sense of their world.

I wrote a whole article about why imaginative play is good for kids, but what I didn’t write about is that imaginative play is good good for parents too!

imaginaitve play

One of the best things about imaginative play is that one set up can be played with in lots of different ways so children of different ages, at different stages of development and with different interests can all play.

Right now my eight year old girls, my four year old boy, and occasionally even my 21 month old are all playing with the same imaginative play set up.

For the girls, part of the joy was collecting the items and setting the scene. They like making ‘pretty displays’ so heading out to the garden with a basket and some scissors to collect leaves and flowers and arranging them around the scene was lots of fun.

Today’s set up is an ‘Elven party’. It includes fairies, elves, a bear, and a few warriors. Something for everyone!

imaginative play

Because imaginative play is open-ended, meaning there is lots of ways to play, it is easier for everyone to accommodate others’ ideas. It makes sharing and playing together much easier.

It also means there is less frustration for Morgan who going through a patch where he feels he can’t ‘do anything right’. Because there is no right or wrong way to play he feels confident and empowered.

Noey comes and goes from the play. He climbs up onto a chair and rearranges a few things, steals a rock or a mushroom or deposits something new to play with. The big kids tolerate him ‘wrecking’ things because they can easily write him into the story. He is a tornado that rips through the party, or a monster, or a wizard…

imaginative play

There are not many activities that all four kids can do together with barely any supervision or interaction from me.

And they’ve been playing for over two hours… that’s why I love imaginative play!

Disclaimer : After two and a half hours playing with the Elven Party, it did end in lots of tears from the four year old perfectionist, and it took a lot of control to keep my yell in. I still like imaginative play, but I’m just ‘keeping it real’ in case you all think that my kids are some kind of angels, or I have some kind of magic ability to set up activities that make my kids play happily together for hours.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mandy April 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I love your disclaimer. lol. I think most activities are a success if we get a 80/20 play/frustration scenario.

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Ash April 12, 2012 at 12:01 am

Oh I love the bit at the end! It’s just a reminder that we’re all in the same boat!
I can’t wait till my boys are old enough to play together like this, without Ben eating the sand and flowers, and Will getting frustrated with having to build everything again! Will can play for ages by himself thanks to his imagination, and I love listening to the dialogue that goes with it!

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Danielle Carpenter April 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I love the mushrooms! Can I ask where you got them from? I think I need some for my classroom…

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katef April 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Sorry Danielle, thought I replied to this ages ago but it must not have worked!
My Dad made the mushrooms for us. I am trying to convince him to make some to sell, but perhaps if you know someone who does some wood turning they might make you some too?

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mumspeak April 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I remember when our girls found the face paint and played ‘ingians’ in the teepee. They were so in the moment. It doesn’t have to be much to get them going. Lots of fertile ground in those wee brains. And lots of productivity for me. For the same reason I like playdates. Friends keep them entertained for ages.

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Petra April 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

We also love our imaginary and recognise a few of your Schleich fairies :-) Your mushrooms are great and i alsow would love to know where you got them from. We have been using doorknobs from Bunnings but they are a bit small and don’t look anything as good as your wooden mushrooms.

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katef April 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

My Dad actually made the mushrooms for us… he has just retired and started doing some wood turning. I am trying to convince him that he could make some to sell, but I’ve not managed it yet! Will let you know if I do!

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Mumabulous October 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

My husband (Dadabulous) loves imaginative play too. He’s going to a Dungeons and Dragons game at a mate’s house next week. An Elven party is his type of shindig.
Seriously though, you’re a lovely mother to help set this beautiful scene up for your little ones. They’ll cherish the memories when they are grown. :-)
Love Mumabulous

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Karen October 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm

The disclaimer is gold! .. that’s why we keep reading you :) xxx

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