Imaginary Play is incredibly important for our little ones as it helps with so many things! This form of play helps develop creativity, grow emotionally, and improve social skills.
It enables them to share their thoughts and feelings - including their worries and anxieties - through a puppet or imaginary game rather than a direct conversation with an adult. Through pretend play your child learns to express themselves and build positive relationships.
Types of Imaginary Play
There are many different types of imaginative play. There are many ways to spark your child's imagination, from puppets to pretend food and shops to traditional wooden toys. (Pretend shops can also help your child to understand counting and money!). With a good imagination, your child can pretend to be anything from a dinosaur to a doctor!
As a parent or carer you can spark their creativity further. When you're playing in their 'pretend' kitchen, why not see if they do takeaways with a pretend phone call. Ask if they can bag your order for you and count the money you are handing over.
Become a library
Use all the books you have with a 'pretend' stamp to borrow books. Set up a desk to create a centre for the books. Get your child to talk about which books are her/his favourites and ask why they recommend them!
Let your child create an imaginary story using puppets with different noises. Hand puppets, finger puppets and dolls are all great for encouraging imaginary play. Little Pig Puppets can tell the story of the Three Little Pigs etc. You can even make a 'Play Theatre' out of the box.
In the shop, I have puppets that can be used from birth! You can play 'boo' and let your baby follow the puppet with their eyes. The classic Rabbit in a Lettuce is one of my customer's all-time favourite puppets, having won multiple awards. It truly makes a great Christmas or Birthday gift!
Children love different kinds of vehicles so grab a play matt and clear some space! Let them create a story with their toys and encourage them to share what's happening in their story.
The best way to support this great form of play is to provide simple resources for them, whether that's empty pots, puppets, wooden toys, fancy dress or boxes!