Wednesday 15 November 2023

Exploring Imaginative Play with the Very Toys Range

 **Collaborative Post**

AD: Sometimes called role play, pretend play, or even imaginative play, whatever you call it, learning through play is a vital part of how children learn many skills as they grow up and is a vital part of development. Learning through play and through a variety of toys and games is one of the best ways children can learn these skills and develop things such as imagination, creativity, and storytelling as well as practical skills such as perfecting fine motor skills. 

From dressing up to creating make-believe scenarios, imaginative play is a completely normal and actually vital part of normal child development and should be actively encouraged. This can be done in several ways and is really simple to do so if you want to find out a little more about what imaginative play involves and how you can encourage your child more, keep reading below. 

What is Imaginative Play?

Imaginative play or role-play is a broad spectrum of play. It is essentially "make-believe" play and is where a child uses their imagination to create a scenario. This might be recreating scenes they see at home, in movies, or maybe things they want to happen or are looking forward to like a big party or holiday. Children will often use "props" such as toys or fancy dress to enhance their imaginative play and this is why choosing the right toys can play a big role in encouraging imaginative play too. 

Why is Imaginative Play so Important? 

Learning through imaginative play is a huge part of growing up and learning new things for children and children are never too young to start learning through play either. It is believed that imaginative play can be vital in developing cognitive, emotional, physical, and social growth. 

Imaginative play is also a great way for children to develop their problem-solving skills for parents to broach tricky topics or to help a child face something they may be worried about. For example, if a child is worried about a doctor's appointment you might role-play a doctor's scenario so the child knows what to expect. Or if you are expecting a new baby, you could role-play mums/dads and babies letting the child help you care for their "baby" and help them understand how things might look when a new baby arrives including using gentle hands, etc. 

Evelyn absolutely adores her baby doll and taking care of it, it helped prepare her for when her cousin had a new baby and she understood all about the baby sleeping in his cot and needing quiet, etc, she likes to tuck her own baby into the Chicco next to me cot which looks so similar to real baby cots! 

The Benefits of Imaginative Play

There are many benefits of imaginative play that will help our children as they grow and develop. Some of these I have mentioned above such as helping cognitive development but imaginative play has so many more benefits too. For example, it can help encourage children to use and learn new words they may not use in an "everyday" scenario. Children also mimic us as adults so will pick up words you use too and copy those. 

Imaginative play is also great for helping children discover new things and new ways to interact with others. Role-play can help children build up their self-confidence as they become different characters. This type of play can also help children learn coping mechanisms for fears, anxieties, and worries, and how to cope with or express different emotions too. 

Simply put, learning through play is one of the best tools children can use as they grow to learn new things, it is a stress-free and fun way for children to learn everything from language skills to those skills they use every day such as getting dressed or washing and it is something you can help children do every day at home. 

Creative Toys for Imaginative Play

As children get older they may not want to play dress-up or role-play games as much but there are still ways they can engage in imaginative play and craft toys are a great way to do this. Open-ended sets are perfect for this, for example, kits and sets that provide materials but don't have a set "end product" means that children can look at the materials provided and use their imagination to come up with something, amazing thing about kids imagination is you could give them all the same materials and 90% of them would come up with something completely different! 

Evelyn loves making things so things like this Rainbow Loom Loomi Pals set is something she can get immersed in for literally hours. She makes all kinds of different creations for herself, for us, for her teddies and dolls etc and I love seeing what she comes up with. She made us all bracelets recently for our holiday and we all had different colours for various reasons and she loved seeing us all wearing them together.

Dolls, soft toys, and teddies are also great toys for encouraging imaginative play. If you have never sat and listened to a child chatter away to their favourite doll or teddy I encourage you to do so. It's honestly one of the sweetest things you will hear and the detail they put into their stories is amazing too. Sometimes it might be recalling something you did and you will be amazed at how much your child actually remembered or it might be a completely made-up scenario but it gives you a great insight into their mind. The L.O.L surprise dolls work well for those who love the surprise element of a toy and it gives another dimension too opening it too. Whilst for those who might be quite sensory or who prefer lots of cuddles, soft toys are a better option. 

Encouraging Imaginative Play at Home

The great thing about imaginative play is that it can be done anywhere or at any time and the best way you can encourage imaginative play is by giving your child a mixture of time for independent play as well as opportunities where you join in or you arrange play dates with other children. 

Having plenty of open-ended toys is also a great way to encourage this type of play and by open-ended ended I mean items that can become other items so clothes that can be used to dress up and create outfits. Things from nature such as wood slices, pine cones, etc can become additions for potions, food, toys, prizes basically anything the child can think of. 

Hopefully, this post has given you lots of ideas and tips on why imaginative play is so important and how you can encourage it at home. Remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to imaginative play so just get creative and don't be afraid to look a little silly or get a little mucky sometimes, it's all part of the fun! 


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