Nice word – imagination. It has “image” in it and allows us to ‘see’ things in our minds. They can be beautiful things, funny things, fantastical things -and they can be scary things too.
Children have great imaginations, at least most of them do. I believe they should be encouraged to use their imaginations in play and stories as they grow.
We used to play imagination games: can you see a funny animal? and then have the child describe what they imagined – color, features, size, sound it makes, where does it live, etc.
And then we would all go on to make up stories about this new ‘creature’ of ours . . . what was it’s name, what food did it like, what games could it play, and so forth.
If they imagined a scary or mean creature we would do the same thing. Find out all about it. Why was it scary and then, of course, we’d learn that things we just make up are not ‘real’ and certainly won’t harm us. How could we make friends with “scary” and why was it mean? Perhaps it had a toothache? Maybe it was just lonely. Maybe it wanted a friend!
I am quite astounded by the toys these days and all of the things that they do. My granddaughter has a complete (child sized) kitchen with pots, pans, dishes and even plastic food! Good grief. We “pretended” all of that – and had lots of fun without the huge financial commitment to loads of plastic junk.
When my daughter was old enough to want an “easy bake oven” I bought her a box of Jiffy mixes and let her whip up little cakes and brownies that were big enough for the whole family to have a piece. It took more interaction and supervision, yes, but the end result was rewarding for everyone – and cheaper than the easy bake stuff!
Here’s a smile memory: My oldest son wanted to bake too, and would have fun with mixes. One time when he was in 5th grade or so, he decided to bake a cake ‘from scratch’ as we were all out of mixes. He did a fine job – EXCEPT, he put in a cup of SALT instead of a cup of SUGAR!! Needless to say … that was one cake that never got eaten. 🙂
These days many families have an entire room just devoted to the children’s toys. Every other object blinks with colored lights, talks, roars or makes music. Not much is left for the children to imagine!
However, bring in a nice big empty box to cut openings and make a ‘house’ – or some old blankets to drape over chairs and make a ‘tent’ and watch the kids abandon the fancy stuff and go for the box or blankets! (Plain old wooden blocks are great too)
Truth be told, children don’t need a room full of toys. They need a few special things that they enjoy and they need the interaction of their families – play with them. Read with them. Have tea-parties or road races with the little cars. Do puzzles. Play board games or card games. Go for walks. Let them help in the garden. Collect bugs together. . . have fun!
Teach your children that there are marvelous things to learn and do. Keep the TV watching time and computer game time to a minimal.
Life is calling – nature, friends, pets, family – it’s a wonderful life! Now, use YOUR IMAGINATION to help your children learn and grow!
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