“Imagining” is an act of making new ideas, concepts that are not presented to us through senses nor knowledge . Imagination is not a talent that is only granted to artists and writers. It is a very important skill to develop also with imaginative activities for kids regardless of whether they are ‘naturally fantasists’ or have a more ‘factual’ personality. Why?
Imagination fosters cognitive and social development. It boosts critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving abilities; it develops experimental attitude and nurtures curiosity, empathy and interpersonal interaction, boosts confidence and emotional development. In short, it is a key basic skill for a progressive learning process as it is one of the skills that fosters development of a high cognitively and emotionally intellectual personality.
Albert Einstein believed that it was IMAGINATION and not KNOWLEDGE that allowed him to make breakthrough discoveries.
There are simple ways to encourage our little ones to guess (or suggest) ideas that are not obvious, not seen nor heard, to become curious in finding out new meanings (functions) of things, to stay pro-active and creative, to solve first-time seen puzzles, to guess the reasons (feelings, motivation) behind the observing behaviour.
BeHappyMum(R) suggests these imaginative activities for kids from our PlayMama app that fit children of different ages, can be played on-the-go and become day-to-day rituals in your family life.
This game is perfect for those moments when you are tired or in a mood to relax. All you need is to an opportunity to see the sky and the clouds.
You can sit or even lie down on the ground if you want to and play this game that develops children’s speech & imagination. Also, it is a way to kill time when you are waiting for someone or something in a queue outdoors.
Start guessing what the clouds looks like! A smile? A cat or a dog? Encourage your little one to guess and to invent a story where “the cat” is moving from this position to…somewhere where? Is the cat happy and why? What are their plans for the rest of the day? It’s a good idea to suggest the plans you are doing next, like having lunch/dinner or watching a film. The cloud characters like the same things as us, humans. Why not?
2. Story telling.
Story time with kids is one of the most exciting family-bonding moments! Mum or Dad can start with a few sentences then ask your child to suggest what happens next. If you feel that your little one is challenged to make new twists in the story, then encourage them with some provocative questions. For example, “and then Little Red Riding Hood saw … a hedgehog? A lion? What if she meets a lion? Do you think she would run away or offer him a cake? So, what animal do you think she meets in our story?”
With a little bit of practice this activity has a chance of becoming their favourite one as it reveals unlimited imagination!
As an alternative, you can invent a story of your own. One starts with the first sentence, another continues.
3. Completing the drawings.
Drawing itself develops creativity (and fine motor skills too!). We would like to suggest an even more exciting way of drawing to you. One of you draws something unfinished (or just a random squiggle). The other is trying to guess what they were drawing. Give them your wildest ideas. Make them feel clever and them exclaim “silly mummy!” – you’ll be sure for a few giggles!
You can draw at home on either a piece of paper or outside using sand (and a stick) or a piece of chalk.
4. What happens next?
When reading a book to your little ones, take a pause from time to time to ask a few questions. In addition to the “like it or not” types of questions, ask them more open ones, like “What do you think will happen next?”, “What do you think about this character?”, “Is there anything to learn from this story?”.
Reasoning skills which you can develop by these types of questions will activate their imagination, their vision of the options of scenarios.
5. House Box
Ideal kids crafts game for siblings. In simple words, it is a free play with the use of objects that children are supposed to use in a new, different way (functionality). You may need to pop a dust sheet or an old ground sheet just to keep your floor safe. Give the little ones felt tips or coloured pens and find an empty large box in your garage… and let them decorate it into a house – whatever they want.. doors, windows or draw on sweets like Hansel & Gretel?! Later, if your kids can’t fit in the box, it can serve as a great house for toys or even pets!
What a job for their imagination!
Play dough is one of the first hand-made crafts your child makes. Show him how to make simple shapes and different objects using play dough – hot dog, a cup, a snowman, pizza. Comment on what you’re doing as you create the shapes. Let him hold them or even play with them afterwards. Encourage him to choose the colours – it’s cool to have a red snowman.
Enjoy this down time – crafting’s a great way to develop creativity and relax at the same time, mothers!
7. Let me introduce
From now on, every new item that appears in your house wants to be introduced. Ask your little one to make “presentations” of new toys, new presents in a way so that everyone understands where it came from, what their life before was like and how they’ll feel in your house and what their relationships will be with other toys.
See how inventive your child can be! You can play this imaginative activity for kids right on your way back home from the toy shop or during your family meal.
8. Dress up!
Take everything out from your wardrobe – not only kid’s, but yours, too. Everything from beach outfits to nun outfits, from Marilyn Monroe to a Pirate costume using your scarfs. Let them explore the idea of becoming a character with a story and allow them to dress up accordingly. Let your child be the Top Model: they can catwalk and you can take a picture of them at the end like a real photographer would! Boost your kids creativity and imagination!
All these activities contribute to the same bank of creativity, imagination and out-of-box thinking.
This is a imaginative activity for kids to play during those rainy days.
Are your children already excited by the idea of camping? If the rain doesn’t allow you to play in a tent outside, why not do the same inside? Making a tent out of a table, chairs and covers boosts a lot of imagination. Let them explore the objects by themselves and experiment with their ideas.
10. Animated World.
This is not just an activity, it is a good day-to-day habit to have and to develop your children’s creativity. Offer your child to “make” the entire world around them animated by inventing stories and wishes to all inanimate objects.
It can be used as a way to “teach” your children chores too. For instance, pens should “march” to the pen box every evening, the dress – to the wardrobe.
It’s a good imaginative activity for kids to fill the time when you are hung up waiting for something or someone to come. Once in restaurant, while waiting for the meal to be served, the kids got really bored and we offered them to play a role game of cutlery “family”…Sounds crazy? Of course, but it became their favourite activity for a long time every time we visited a restaurant. The knife became … hmm … the Dad, the Spoon – the mum and the forks became “children”. A cutlery family visited another family of cutlery and only children imagination knows what they did together.
11. Give them names!
This is again, a family habit. A new car would be happy to get a name, a new toy – too. Pillows, pans, new bike – encourage your child to “invent” names. It will boost their imagination and makes them create associations of their own (concepts that usually stems from specific experiences).
12. Puppet show.
There was a time when there were no tablets nor internet. And there was one of the most amazing imaginative activities for kids!
This is a great idea for a rainy day or a play day for kids. Give them toys, make a curtain with a blanket and … here we go. Depending on their age, let them make up a story by themselves. It is one of our favourite family activities during the weekend evenings. It is a classic activity for children to boost their creativity!
13. Pretend play
Any pretend play is a good way to foster imagining of being someone else or somewhere else. Playing flying a plane, steering a boat, going to the theatre, pretend going camping.. at home, pretend having lots of pets etc.
Just let their imagination go wild!
14. Inventing new words
This a good imaginative activity for kids that gives an intellectual boost to all brains, your kids’ and yours.
It can be a new words making like “a breakslow” (a nice slow breakfast), “ a tidylessness” (creating a mess while tidying up the room). You can initiate this game once and show your children an example of “creative” words making. You can practise this game when you’re in a car or long journey.
It can also be a “code” (a secret word or a new language) that would mean something that only you might know. Let’s say “the flower blossoms” might mean any positive action that parents ask to do like tidying up the room or arranging the clothes. In this case something like “the tower is demolished” might mean the opposite. By the way, that sort of “phrase” might be used in public when you want to encourage or remind your children about saying “thank you” without others knowing. Say “where is your green jumper?” (there is no green jumper and never has been but your kids might click on this “code” phrase).
As “family safety” advice , make your own family safety code word that will be a signal of danger for children to identify if a stranger approaches your child. Hopefully, you’ll never need to apply this but it is good unsurance.