After my rant yesterday (Imagination required?) on children’s toys and their marketing I feel much better. Since I’m clearly not crazy about these toys that do everything but dance, I decided to put together a list of activities that I feel boost imagination. Most are not new ideas, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded. All require some level of engagement, at least at first. However, I have found that once the brain is stimulated, my son is less bored and able to entertain himself.
Without further ado….
1) Books. You can learn everything from your ABCs,vocabulary, sentence structure, mental imagery and so many more things just by reading. What’s not to love?
2) Crayons, markers, paint: A classic way to helping your child tap into his/her creative side. You can even make a book together complete with illustrations.
3) Cooking (if old enough): We will definitely be doing this in the future because I feel it has all kinds of side benefits. Not only are they more likely to eat their dinner because they helped make it, but it helps make them feel included in the family decisions. My plan is to give start by giving him one night a week where he gets to pick (out of two options) what to cook and then we’ll do it together (me doing all the chopping and dangerous stuff). Also, in the long run, not only will you eventually get a night or two of not having to do the cooking, but you’ll teach your child a valuable life lesson.
4) Have a dance party: When I was a kid I could occupy myself for hours with the radio. It’s a great way for kids to burn off energy and get creative with their bodies. With Childhood obesity being such a huge problem, this is a great solution to get your kid moving and it’s not weather dependent.
5) Make music: It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Just open your cupboards and get out your pans, lids, spoons and bang away. You can even get Tupperware containers and fill them with beans, rice, whatever makes noise, to make maracas.
6) Build something: as I mentioned in my previous post we build and attack castles using the jumbo blocks. The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way for kids to experiment.
7) Soft toys/ stuffed animals: For the really young babies, make sure that you are supervising at all times. However, building stories using these toys are great for inspiring imagination early. My son has bugs that crinkle and squeak. We used to create stories around them and have the bugs give him flying kisses. Now we’re onto larger stuffed animals like dogs and bears. He gets the giggles when the doggie pants and barks at him.
8) Let them choose their clothes: I know, sometimes it’s hard when they want to wear things that clearly don’t go together, but as long a they don’t mind, why should we? I think it’s never to early to start. Right now I give my son two options every morning and ask him which top and which bottoms he wants to wear. It’s adorable the way he evaluates each option and then lays his hand over which one he wants. I think it gives him a sense of empowerment and there is certainly less fuss.
9) Tap into your creative side: If you’re inspired your more likely to be able to inspire. I know it’s difficult when most people work and the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day, but parenting is hard work. I feel so lucky to be able to be home with my son and have the time to spend with him. I guarantee a little goes a long way, so even an hour is worth it.
10) Have play dates: Not only does it take a lot of the pressure off of you, but kids learn so much from other kids. My son is the youngest of our play group and I know that he has learned a lot already by observing what the bigger kids do. It’s also nice to be able to have some adult interaction. I knew I needed to start finding a group when my son started getting really interested in other kids and I started talking to my husband in simple sentences as if he was a child. oops.
One last thought, it’s never too late to start cultivating imagination. It will help in school and in life, and I think most everybody wants to see their children succeed.