by Micaela at Mindful Momma
If you've ever listened in on a play date conversation between two friends or a gaggle of kids playing at the park, you know that kids are naturally imaginative. Little minds easily race off into make-believe worlds, returning only when the friend must go home or something else brings them back to reality.
With benefits like improved social skills, increased self-confidence, stronger empathy and best of all - the ability to entertain themselves - it’s worth spending time encouraging your child’s imagination. Here are some easy ways to bring out the creative spirit in your child:
Read Lots of Books
A good story is a catalyst into another world. Whether the story is make believe or real-life; whether it happens near you or far, far away; a story can spark a child’s imagination and keep it burning well after the story is finished. Choose stories with characters you think your child can relate to in some way. Classic fairy tales, folk stories, fables and myths are wonderful imagination boosters, as is any adventure story with a hero and a lesson to be learned.
Tip: Keep it green by borrowing books from your local library.
Send them Outside
Next time your kids are getting a little too comfortable in front of the TV or computer screen, send them on an outdoor adventure. Try an open-ended scavenger hunt, where they get to choose what to look for. Take a nature hike and invent a story about the creatures you see. Or keep it simple with playtime in your own backyard. There’s nothing like a little fresh air to open up the mind and get those creative juices flowing!
Tip: Have outdoor toys and gear in a place where kids can help themselves.
Keep a Prop Box
Prepare for one of those “I’m bored” moments by organizing supplies for creative play that you can pull out at a moment’s notice. These props can be anything from dress up clothes like costumes and hats, to miscellaneous household items to use as musical instruments, magic wands or whatever the imagination decides. Before you know it, your kids may be creating a play or putting on a puppet show!
Tip: Instead of tossing old clothes, purses and other accessories, save them for the prop box.
Buy Open-Ended Toys
Give a kid a pile of blocks and you’ll never see the same thing built twice. That’s the beauty of open-ended toys – the possibilities are endless! Look for high quality, eco-friendly toys that will stand up over time, such as wooden blocks or pull toys, durable recycled plastic play food or organic cotton plush toys. A toy kitchen, doll house or other play structure is a wonderful catalyst for imaginative play and will be well worth the investment.
Zenoobi pick: Green Toys Pizza Parlor
Keep Craft Supplies Handy
Drawing, painting and crafting are a perfect way to let your child’s imagination soar. Be prepared by stocking up on art supplies that are ready to go whenever the artistic bug bites. Since conventional art materials can contain toxic ingredients, look for safer, eco-friendly versions of popular items like crayons, paints and markers. Don’t forget that cardboard boxes and other material that you might otherwise throw out are great for creating free form crafts.
Zenoobi pick: Artterro Arts and Crafts like Art Dolls Kit
(image credit Jackie Popp via flickr cc)