“… and the BIG Jenn bear stomps into the room. CRASH. BANG! BOOOOOMMMM!” I hear my husband say from the next room as my oldest giggles with sheer glee as she winds down for bed.
They’re making up stories again and her little creative juices are flowing.
I can only imagine what kinds of dreams she has from the epic stories and adventures she goes on in their tall tales. Especially after I hear her the next morning talking to herself, telling stories of grand escapades and looney details that would never happen in real life.
But she giggles and her imagination continues to take her on trips.
I want to encourage this behavior and foster that creativity in her.
Creativity, curiosity, and enthusiasm can rarely be taught. But it can easily be squashed.
The little moments we get as parents to foster creativity can lead to the skills needed for to be resourceful and to become an out-of-the-box thinker. In my own kids, I see how they think through problems and obstacles with unique solutions and how they dream up things to make what seems impossible happen.
Easy ways to encourage imaginative pretend play with your kids
Every child is unique. They have their own personalities with their own talents, likes, and dislikes. But one thing that all kids have in common is their endless imagination. The creativity and wonder seems to flow from them.
But what if you’re not seeing this creativity or you wish to foster it as long as possible? Even if you think pretend play is boring, help them find, or reconnect with, their imagination with these ideas that will fuel their creativity energy, spark their curiosity and inquisitiveness, and get them pretending!
Books are an excellent source to inspire the imagination.
As you read, they will be envisioning the characters and scene, and as they do, it will make the story their own. Or create an ongoing story of your own where your child fills in most of the details. Let them create the character names, scenes, conflicts, and resolutions. They will feel connected to the story, build their imagination, and it will strengthen your bond with each other.
Related: Find more ideas on how to raise problem solvers.
Or create an ongoing story of your own like my husband and oldest do where they make up silly stories with crazy plot twists and extraordinary details.
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Let them create the character names, scenes, conflicts, and resolutions. They will feel connected to the story, build their imagination, and it will strengthen your bond with each other.
Paint a Scene
What Would You Do If…? This is a great activity to do with your children. Ask them questions like, What if trees were made out of cotton candy? Then follow up by asking them what they would do if that were true. Be prepared for some silly stories. Your kids may eventually become the ones to start this game, asking you for creative scenarios.
Pull out a bunch of old photos that no one will miss from boxes and drawers.
You know, the ones where someone had his eyes closed or had a bad hair day.
Let your child cut them up into bits and pieces of different body parts. Then get out some glue, construction paper, and markers and have them turn the all the body parts into new people. They can color a picture to put their creations in, like outer space or a castle. Your child will enjoy creating a new world of people and places.
Related: Find 25 easy and fun pretend play ideas from my friend Allison at no Time for Flash Cards!
Send your child on a treasure hunt by having them spend a few minutes hunting around the house for a few items they haven’t noticed or paid attention to before.
The items should come from one of the common rooms of the house, not from a bedroom, and they shouldn’t be breakable. When time is up, have him present the items to you one by one. Your job is to tell a story about each item — where it came from, who gave it to you, where you were when you got it, and why you like it. Do that for each item. Then have your child make up a story that ties all items together.
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More play ideas and resources to connect with your kids
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!