Imagination play comes naturally to most toddlers. It’s natural for kids to want to recreate the world around them in fun, imaginative, role-play-based ways.
Make-believe play is crucial to young people’s development. It inspires your child to think critically, interpret confusing concepts, and generally make sense of the outside world.
It’s also natural for some kids to require an extra push in helping them delve into the world of imagination play.
In this article we will highlight some excellent was to encourage imagination as well as identifying the best times to introduce them to your child.
Imagination play benefits for toddlers
Just as creativity is limitless, there are also unlimited benefits of imagination play for toddlers. Here are just a few -
It teaches toddlers how to interact
Imagination play is the best way for kids to develop their social personalities and also experience empathy.
It is a whole lot more fun when another child is involved.It helps them interpret the world around them
Through role-based imagination play, kids can understand that although everyone plays different roles, they can work together for a common goal.
It is the easiest way for them to comprehend the fact that everyone is different.
It introduces them to problem-solving
Make-believe play inspires your child to think outside the box. In role-play-based make-believe, your child needs to consider how each character interacts, and what props each character requires.
It helps with physical development
Not only crucial to mental development, but imagination games can also be a vital part of a child’s physical development.
Imagination play can be physical and involve running, skipping, jumping, and doing physical tasks that involve honing hand-eye coordination skills.
It activates the most important part of the brain: creativity!
Your child is introduced to their creative muscles through the problem-solving and critical thinking aspects of imagination play.
They can make up silly characters, voices, and scenarios in the creative play while developing their sense of humor and internal monologue!
Imagination Play Ideas for Toddlers
If you feel your toddler isn’t naturally developing an inclination towards imagination play, there are many ideas and props you can introduce and help inspire them with.
Put on a show
Provide your child with props - such as puppets, etc. - and ask them to perform for the rest of the family. This can make children genuinely believe they are performers, putting on a genuine show.
Legitimize it in your child’s mind by providing them with tickets to hand out and fake money to take for the tickets.
Owning a shop
This role-play-based imagination play gets your child to think about what the mind of a shopkeeper must be like. It puts them in the shoes of someone they’ve regularly seen but never fully understood.
It’s a straightforward procedure for little ones. They can ‘sell’ items to other family members in exchange for other items or fake money.
It’s great for toddlers to pretend they’re part of the working world. Creating scenarios where kids can feel like adults is key to imagination play. It can be extremely satisfying for them, too.
Use pillows, or other soft household items, to create a desert island in the middle of a room.
Let your toddler roam free on this island, create their den on it, and jump right into a world of imagination!
Complete household tasks
Although they may seem mundane, completing simple household tasks can evoke a world of imagination in toddlers. Plus, the idea of having a responsibility to fulfill can be very gratifying to them.
Something as simple as setting up a washing line to their height, and giving them some small clothes to hang up, will suffice.
Kids definitely want to recreate what they see others do, particularly their parents. By allowing them to pretend they have adult responsibilities to complete, they can pretend they are adults too!
Imagination play doesn’t have to be complicated! A child’s mind is wild, and they can turn something as simple as a cardboard box into a world of fun!
Provide your child with a sizable cardboard box - preferably one they can fit inside - and leave them to it! Your toddler’s mind will turn it into a den, a car, a spaceship - whatever they like!
Jungle/ deep-sea exploration - in the living room!
Turn any room of your house into an exotic, unfamiliar setting, and let your kids run free and explore. Tell your kids what each item represents; for example, the pillows are now sharks.
Especially with the help of a few other kids, they can turn this simple setup into an exciting, imagination-based adventure.
Hide lost treasure in the room, or make up an end goal for the day, to make the game extra exciting and engaging for your toddler.
When is the right time to introduce imagination play to toddlers?
Imagination has no starting age. Particularly creative kids may already exhibit signs of imaginative play before they are toddlers. From a young age, you should provide them with toys that will inspire imagination.
As soon as your child starts playing with toys appropriately, you should try and get them to imagine scenarios where they interact with one another, such as making meals for them and having tea parties.
Once your child is over 18 months old, you should encourage them to replicate what they see in adults and encourage them to imagine they are adults themselves.
Your child is most likely to see you cooking or on the phone often, so provide them with fake foods or a telephone, and get them to recreate what they see you doing.
This is the best means of instigating imagination play.
Imagination play is a vital part of your toddler’s development. It is beneficial because it fosters creative thinking, empathy, social skills, and critical thinking
All toddlers are imaginative, and you need to let them thrive in their imaginary worlds as much as possible!
For a wide selection of imagination play props, check out the selection available on Hiccups and Buttercups, and allow your child to thrive in their play worlds!