Looking for some ideas for imaginative play to increase the levels of creativity and fun in your household this winter? Well, here you go! Inspire your preschoolers and early school aged kids with these 17 Bright Ideas for Imaginative Play With Young Kids This Winter from Nic Landsdell, founder of Bizzibrains, and you’ll be sitting pretty for the coolest, most fun parent ever award:
Make a flip the flap book – Get 2 or more A4 sheets, fold them in half and staple them together (so that you have a booklet with 4 or more pages). On the first page, draw a creature that has a top half (eg a head and two arms or upper legs) and a lower half (eg two lower legs and a tail). Have the upper half on the top half of the page and the lower half on the bottom half of the page. Now, cut the page in half, splitting the top and lower half of the creature. Draw a different creature on each page, splitting the top and lower halves of each by cutting the page. Hint: draw the top half of your new creature on top of the bottom half of your previous creature so that the sides/lines match up. Turn the pages in whatever order you like and give the crazy creatures you’ve made names! For a trickier book, try cutting your creatures in three.
Make paper animals that stand up – Fold a piece of paper in half and draw an animal that has a flat back and four legs from the side (so you only draw two legs but because the paper is folded in half, when it opens you’ll have four). Cut the animal out, colour it in and stand it up. Animals that work well are: crocodiles, dinosaurs, goannas, cows, dogs, elephants, rhinos, etc.
Make an autumn leaf crown – Measure a piece of paper around your child’s head and stick or staple the ends together so that it fits securely (e.g. where the base of a paper hat would go). Collect autumn leaves and stick them around the paper pointing upwards so they look like a magnificent crown. Let the role play begin!
Make indoor plant hangers – Cut plastic bottles in half (old soft drink, milk or orange juice bottles will do). Use the lid end for planting (so you can drain water if you need to). Make sure the lid is on securely and paint or decorate that half of the bottle. For a simple but effective look simply dip half your planter base in a container full of paint. Fill where the lid is with cotton wool and then fill the base with soil (make sure kids are wearing gloves if they are touching the soil). Plant your plant (mini sunflowers are great, as are many herbs). Hang them, using some ribbon or twine, in a warm place away from direct summer sun, gentle winter sun is great though. Water every day and watch them grow!
Make origami book mark monsters – These are super cute and great for saving your place in the Wizard of Oz or whatever book you’re reading together. They’re much better explained visually so check them out at: http://www.ctbakerintheacres.com/2012/02/14-lovely-days-day-2.html
Make cleaning fun! – Fill a spray bottle with water, get out your window wipers or sponges and watch your toddlers have a ball washing the outside windows. If you’ve got little kids you might need to follow with pieces of newspaper to dry them properly!
Wash up – One of my best ideas for imaginative play is ‘Wash Up’. My 5 and 3 year old both LOVE standing on a stool and playing in the sink with warm soapy water. They’ll happily wash the dishes (and dolls, toys and anything else that needs a wash) for half an hour!
Hang clothes on the line – Make a clothesline at the right height for your little one (my 3 year old loves this). When you’re hanging out the washing, take the time to talk them through how you do it (give the top a good flick to get the creases out, hang it up this way with the peg, etc). They love being taken seriously and trusted to help!
Make food faces – Cut some pieces of fruit, vegies or other food (cheese, bread, etc) in round shapes, others in long shapes, others in curved shapes, and add some small things (sultanas, sunflower seeds, etc) and let your child make a face out of the pieces in front of them. The only rule – they have to eat it all when they’re finished!
Make menus – Tell your kids what you’re making for lunch or dinner and ask them to make a menu (have kids draw the food options), then let them take turns to be the waiter and take everyone’s order. Not just ideas for imaginative play but also for tempting fussy eaters.
Read and perform – Read a story and get the kids to take it in turns to perform their favourite parts (mine like to do this solo, one at a time, while we all sit, watch and clap at the end).
Make a video – Get the kids to put on a production and then show the grandparents. They can perform a story, dance, song, make a documentary, interview each other, etc. Grandparents can give their ideas for imaginative play video topics too.
Make an indoor cubby – This is always on lists like these but I couldn’t go past it, they’re just so much fun and in my house always lead to hours of unscripted independent, imaginative play. Use sheets, blankets, quilts, tables, desks, chairs, cushions, boxes, etc. When they’re set up, give them some little picnic snacks to share with their toys in the cubby.
Play eye spy – Let the little ones use colours rather than letters if they’re too young. Not all ideas for imaginative play need to use props or involve movement.
Play pirate treasure – Don a pirate patch and give them some treasure (an old necklace, trinkets, coins, etc.). You and the kids can then take it in turn to hide the treasure and draw a map to see if the other pirates can find it.
Role play, my kids absolute favourite – My kids look after me while I pretend to be a baby and they’re my mum and dad or mum and sister, etc. I get fed, cleaned, put to bed, put in the bath (I always say no to the taps being turned on though!), woken up, my clothes chosen, sung to. It’s actually nice to have them doing all the thinking and bossing for a change! You could also role play Hospitals or Schools. This is one of my top ideas for imaginative play! Why not check out Yardgames to get some ideas and help their imagination flow.
Make a cardboard slide – Get your hands on a big cardboard box, if you or your neighbours have any removalist boxes they’re perfect because they’re big and strong or you can use smaller boxes but you’ll need about 4 of them. Open the boxes out flat and lie them on your stairs. Make sure you have them ending at the bottom of the stairs, you don’t need the box to start at the top. If you’re using smaller boxes, tape them together. And there you have your very own slide. You might want some cushions down the bottom and always do this one supervised by an adult.
- About the author: Having enjoyed over 10 years working as a successful economist, Nic Lansdell decided it was time to see where her love of stories, art, music and children would take her. She founded Bizzibrains with the aim of producing gorgeous apps in which kids create the characters. The apps blend kids photos and voices into beautifully illustrated stories that are packed full of fun, educational interactions. Bizzibrains released ‘I imagine’ their first app in early 2014. Designed to develop literacy skills, encourage creativity and build independence it has had over 1.7 million sessions in the few months it has been released. Children love reading it again and again!
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