Help Your Kids Flex Their Imagination Muscles

Help Your Kids Flex Their Imagination Muscles

Neurologists are always hard at work trying to figure out why we human beings think and do certain things. Imagination is one of the brain functions researchers have analyzed in recent years. What they found was very interesting.

As far back as 2002, researchers noted giving kids unstructured playtime when their imagination can run wild is important for cognitive development. Playtime, in general, can help build:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Teamwork and Collaboration

Unfortunately, a lot of kids don’t get enough unstructured playtime that’s free of a media source. Experts warn that media can hinder a child’s ability to create images in their own mind. It’s time to encourage our kids to flex their imagination muscles. Here are a few ideas you can use to make imaginative playtime part of your daily routine.

Play Dress Up

From a princess tutu to a cowboy hat, a few costume pieces can immediately spark a child’s imagination. Instead of donating old Halloween costumes to Goodwill, repurpose them for dress up time. After the holiday you can find great deals on additional costume pieces to add to the collection. A fun related project is putting on a play. Help your kids come up with a story and create a performance stage where they can drum up the drama.

Build Castles and Forts

Every kid enjoys an afternoon building a pint-size castles and forts of their own. The great thing is you need little more than some cardboard boxes and a few sheets to create a temporary playhouse that is much grander in your child’s imagination.

Build a Tree House

Your kids can bring the imaginary adventure outdoors with a tree house (or playhouse that’s on the ground). Kids will get fresh air and physical activity along with their unstructured playtime. The good news you don’t have to be a carpenter or spend a ton to give your kids an outdoor playhouse. It may take a little time to grow, but a bean teepee can be put together in an afternoon for next to nothing.

Tea Parties

The imaginary tea party is a classic childhood game. High tea is a tradition that’s almost entirely died out in the U.S., but kids with a little bit of imagination invite friends, parents and their stuffed buddies to elaborate tea times on a regular basis. All they need is a kid-size table and tea set to feel like they’re at Buckingham Palace.

Have Storytelling and Writing Time

Storytelling with your kids rather than letting a book or video do all the work has major benefits. It’s an opportunity for elders to pass wisdom down to youngsters and build a relationship. One way to incorporate more imaginative tales is to make storytelling a part of your bedtime routine. Have your kid come up with the plot, characters, setting, etc. and then use your imagination to fill in the details. You can also give them a journal and encourage them to come up with stories of their own.

Set Up an Art Corner

Reserve a corner of the play area for a miniature art studio. Art helps kids develop a number to critical skills and has been shown to improve academic performance. Provide your kids with all sorts of art supplies that allow them to stretch their imagination. Look for molding clay, water paints, color pencils, crayons and building blocks. The one thing to watch out for during art hour is your floors. Put down a cardboard box or construction paper if you have carpet or wood floors.

Turn Ordinary Household Items Into Toys

Children have a natural knack for turning just about anything into a toy. You’re your kid’s imagination by giving them unconventional items to play with during their unstructured playtime. They can decide to make the items anything they want, which fosters imaginative thinking. Rather than being prompted to create a specific character your kid has complete creative control.

Create Collages

Kids of all ages still get a kick out of Polaroid cameras. Give them the task of coming up with a theme and creating a collage one afternoon and they’ll put a Polaroid camera to good use. You may be surprised at how creative their pictures are, and the project will give you a glimpse at how they view their world.

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