5 Whimsical Ways To Foster Imaginative Play

Children are naturally creative. Getting their imaginations engaged is usually just a matter of presenting them with some materials and a concept to get them started. Engaging in creative play alongside your child can serve as a wonderful break for you as well as a powerful bonding experience. Here are some ideas that might inspire you.

Build Fairy Gardens


Image via Flickr by moonlightbulb

Creating tiny worlds for imaginary creatures is a delightful pastime. Start with a big pot, container or tray. Figure out together how to build a tiny house for your fairy, then decorate the garden with mosses, small plants, and flowers. Maybe your kids would like to offer their fairy a teeny fence or some stepping-stones. Ask questions, then let their imaginations soar while they figure out the answers.

Play Pretend

Children love to act out scenes from adult life. They like to act out the daily life they’re familiar with by playing house or school, and they like to pretend to have a career such as being a veterinarian, firefighter, doctor, superhero, or police officer. A group of children will often start playing pretend games on their own, especially if you give them costumes and props. An only child can doctor stuffed animals or play with action figures but will be much more engaged if you play with him or her.

Create With Arts and Crafts

If you provide a clean, well-organized space and plenty of supplies and ideas, kids will do the rest. You can direct them by setting out specific supplies for a project, like paints or modeling clay. You can also find project ideas online or in books. Look for open-ended projects with photos that look achievable for your child; it can be discouraging to try to replicate a slick, professionally crafted work of art.

Build a Space for Indoor Adventures

If you can get your hands on a refrigerator box, you have a puppet theater, school bus, spaceship, and corner store waiting to happen. Gather supplies like paints, markers, scissors, tissue paper, old silk flowers, and strings of holiday lights. The LED kind sold by Christmas Lights Etc don’t get hot or pose a fire hazard. Offer to help with some of the tricky cutting and problem-solving, but let the kids come up with the ideas.

Make a Boredom Jar

Prepare for those days when the kids start whining about being bored by setting up a Boredom Jar. Write out ideas for play on slips of paper. Choose simple, open-ended ideas like “Play restaurant,” “Color,” or “Play hide and seek.” If your kids are old enough, they can help generate ideas. As you come across fun ideas for projects and playtime, add them to the jar. Fold up magazine pages and drop them in the jar, print out ideas you find online, or just write the URL on a slip