Fostering creativity: encouraging imaginative play.


Is there anything more magical than the imagination of a child? I remember vividly some of the most beautiful moments of my childhood, some of which existed totally inside my own imagination. I remember my younger brothers and I spending long rainy days turning our bedroom doors (which faced each other on a landing) into shop fronts. Days spent “selling” each other our toys and other belongings and then buying them back. I remember boxes turned into cars and trees turned into castles. I remember imaginary friends and backyards that became jungles and swamps.

We live in a fast paced, technology-lead world that is vastly different to the social landscape that we ourselves grew up in. Whilst we had TV we didn’t have computers and smart phones and tablets. When we were children we weren’t surrounded by technology the way our children are, our parents weren’t constantly attached to a screen. There is a lot of social discussion on what this change in our social landscape may do to the experience of childhood. No one really knows yet. Not enough time has passed to really know. One thing I know is that I am constantly amazed at my one year old’s ability to unlock my phone, navigate the screens, open apps and play actual games… without any assistance whatsoever. It blows my mind.

I think most people would agree that finding a balance between technology and screen-free time is really important for kids (and adults too!), and as parents it is our responsibility to navigate this new field in the best way we can. I have been doing a lot of research on imaginative play and the importance of both play and imagination on the development and growth of our tiny humans. Imaginative play is the very foundation of nurturing social and life skills that our kids will one day use as adults in the outside world. It’s also a huge part of the joy that comes from childhood. I don’t think you need to teach kids to play, they know. Just like the day when the baby truly hears the music, he begins to dance… one day the child discovers a world of his own, and he begins to play. The child never needs to be taught, it’s already in him, but a little facilitation might be necessary sometimes. Turning off the TV, giving kids access to toys that don’t “do” something, toys that they can use to create a world of their own. Toys that need not be “toys” at all. Pots and pans, cardboard boxes, spoons and bowls…

Bo has just begun to truly immerse herself in the world of play and it is a beautiful thing to watch. To watch as she potters around the house, clearly in her own world, filling bags and singing songs and feeding babies and reading stories to her little friends. It’s so beautiful. It fills me with so much joy.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share with you some ideas for encouraging imaginative play that you can use in your own house with your kids. I’m not a big fan of toys that “do” things, in fact, Bo doesn’t have any toys that have batteries, she probably will one day but she doesn’t yet. This is something I’m really passionate about and I’d love, LOVE to hear some of your ideas!

How do you encourage imaginative play?


Similar Posts:

  • June 18, 2013 - 6:44 am

    Shell - Hey sash, I couldn’t agree more. I’m a “second mummy” to 18 1.5-2yr-olds (not all at once, of course) while their real mummies are at work. They bring me “sand cakes” from the sand pit and make musical instruments by shoving stuff in empty disposable glove boxes I’ve thrown them. They are all scientists and engineers and creators. It is indeed fascinating to watch. Bo is very lucky that you are in this mindset ๐Ÿ™‚ by the way – what a beautiful little cherub you have – you have done well! Lots love xxReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:36 am

      Sash - I’m so glad not all at once. Can you imagine the noise in that room!! Thanks and big love right back to you!ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 10:00 am

    Naomi @ (Not) Just A Mummy - I LOVE this post Sash, especially the part about watching Bo potter around and it filling you with so much joy. Ollie is at the very same stage and watching the way he perceives everyday objects just blows my mind. Our favourite at the moment is getting out all his kitchen stuff (the mini frypan, colander, small saucepan, measuring cups, whisk and a wooden spoon) and letting him run wild with it while I do whatever needs to be done to get lunch/dinner ready. I especially love it when he doesn’t realise I’m watching and I can catch him completely engaged in what he’s doing. These little people truly are breathtaking!ReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:37 am

      Sash - Breathtaking is an excellent word for them. Amazing little creatures they are.ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 11:06 am

    Teagan - Hi, thank you so much for leaving your link on my blog ( I have enjoyed having a read. Your photos are wonderful!ReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:36 am

      Sash - Thanks Teagan! ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 1:14 pm

    Lilybett - I love that every colander and bowl in our house is a ‘hat’.ReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:35 am

      Sash - That’s great! And what a sensible hat a colander is!ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    Eva - hey sash,

    if you don’t read it already, you should check out Teacher Tom’s blog – he’s a great proponent of free, self-directed play for kids.
    My little girl (also a valentines day baby from last year) is also amazing to watch when she plays – we don’t give her toys that ‘do’ something or have batteries either, and I’m sure her access to simpler toys and objects foster a greater sense of imagination and concentration than all those commercial ‘learning’ toys. At the moment it’s all about building and dress-ups. We have a box of ‘things’ – fabric pieces, ribbons, sunglasses, old bibs, sewing spools, watches and other sundry bit and bobs from around the house – and she loves that.ReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:35 am

      Sash - I’ll check it out, thanks for the link! We’ve just started loving dress ups here too… .mostly wearing underwear as a scarf. HA! It’s so sweet to watch them discover their world ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    Kate - PLay is the way! I studied early childhood and absolutely love that i get to see it everyday develop in my own little girl. I am fascinated watching her play and learn plus the interactions she has with her super close cousins and family. Hide and seek is our new favourite…and so are tea parties and birthday candles!ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2013 - 8:59 pm

    Marie - I have to say, your earlier writing on that need parents have to buy their child STUFF completely reshaped my perspective on toys. I had honestly never really thought about the effect electronic toys that whistle and beep and “do” something have on kids, but it makes so much sense. I look at teens today who can’t function without a cell phone or a game controller in their hand and it sickens me! I took my husband to a local shop that makes wooden toys that foster creativity and explained to him that I didn’t want our son to grow up having his brain sucked out by technology. That I wanted to get back to the kind of childhood that I had and my husband had, where we had to use our imaginations to play. He completely agreed with me. Thank you for bringing this issue up, and for reiterating the point in today’s post.ReplyCancel

    • June 20, 2013 - 7:34 am

      Sash - Wonderful! I’m so glad you are having this conversation, it’s such an important one, I think. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I often get sucked in to the advertising on toys and kid stuff, but I use a pretty firm hand with myself to remind myself what I want for my Bo. It’s awesome to know that what I write has helped someone else to begin a conversation in their own lives. That’s unreal! xoReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2013 - 11:58 am

    Sasha - Beautiful blog!

    I love this post. My daughter is 9weeks old and I can’ wait to see her learning to play and use her imagination. I love the battery-free zone. Great idea ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *