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Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is “responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more” (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.

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2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).

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3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated (Lillemyr, 2009).  

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4. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child’s.

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5. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf

Snowless Snowball Craft

Winter is here, and that means it’s time to make some snowballs! Not everybody gets snow but that’s okay because this craft can be done anywhere. It’s really easy and, more importantly, really fun!

Materials

  • Styrofoam balls (various sizes)
  • White glue
  • White and blue tissue paper
  • Paint brushes
  • Glitter

Instructions

  1. Brush Styrofoam balls with a thin coating of glue.
  2. Cover each ball with the squares of tissue paper (the more crinkly, the better!).
  3. While still sticky with glue, coat each ball with glitter.

You can add wire or string to hang your snowless snowballs on display or glue them together to make a fun sculpture. Encourage your little ones to let their imaginations run wild!

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Edible Creations: Play with Your Food!

It’s a fact: children love to play with their food. Here’s an activity that is fun and lets children eat their creations!

Grab a couple bags of marshmallows (you can use minis, regular size or jumbo, or offer a selection of all three sizes) and a package or two of pretzel sticks. Set everything out on a table and let your little ones use their imaginations to create snowflakes, animals, houses and more by connecting the pretzel sticks to the marshmallows. When they are finished, snap pictures of their edible masterpieces for posterity and then dig in!

 

*An adult should oversee all activities.  Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Oh, to Be a Fly on the Wall…

Art - Boy & GirlIf you want to learn something new about your preschooler, create a developmentally appropriate (and safe) play area for her—one that will be easy for you to see from a chair off to the side—and just watch. Don’t ask her questions. Don’t tell her the “right” way to play. Just let her be! And if you do, you may just get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her magical world. A preschooler’s imagination is really an amazing thing. She may pretend to be or do anything! Pay attention and you just may learn something new.

What have you learned from your preschooler?

The Symbols of Play

Excerpt from Me, Myself and I

Think about it.  Play helps children understand that things can stand for other things – that keys or shoes can stand for “Daddy,” that her purse or lipstick can stand for “Mommy,” that a leash or collar can stand for “dog.”  It is quite amazing, really, because there is no way we can ever achieve that for our kids.  They simply have to sort it out on their own.

Dramatic PlayHow?  As a child rummages through the bottom of the closet and pulls out a familiar pair of big, old shoes, someone who takes notice in the sequence of the child’s play will say the word “Daddy,” and probably more than once.  The child plays (with pleasure) as she pairs them up, hefts her weight, maybe even struggles to put on those size 12s.  And the “power” word she hears in this whole scenario is “Daddy.”  After the memory and pleasure centers in the brain connect with the word heard for this experience, the experience gets filed (pleasantly) under “Daddy” or “shoes” or “smelly feet” – probably all three.

But more importantly, the experience gets remembered (learned), and soon the play starts to symbolize the child’s experience with any or all of the parts of this scene.  Which experience is hard to predict, be it remembering her father when he is gone, classifying pairs of things that belong together, or the raw joy of exploring.  But the experience now has some kind of symbol connected to it, thanks to play.

Moreover, experience gets symbolized and images fixed through play in a way that the child can create new symbols over time.  He combines and reshapes old ones, or uses them in novel ways.  This capacity to manipulate and change them gives him wonderful new tools for elaborating his own experience and understanding of the world and his place in it.  This remarkable capacity it what we call “imagination.”