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Take a Magic Carpet Ride

by Lori Sciame | July 28th, 2011 | Preschool

Imagination. That’s what a parent of a preschooler must nurture in his or her child. Why? A vivid imagination allows a child to dream big and to “think outside the box.”

As exhibited in a 2009 Wall Street Journal article, “child-development experts are recognizing the importance of imagination and the role it plays in understanding reality. Imagination is necessary for learning about people and events we don’t directly experience, such as history or events on the other side of the world. For young kids, it allows them to ponder the future, such as what they want to do when they grow up.”

I don’t know if imaginary play truly helps children decide what they want to be when they grow up; I do know that this type of play brings true enjoyment to them. Here are four activities that encourage the imagination in a young child.

1. Play Dress Up

Think beyond just letting your pre-schooler try on your clothes and shoes. Why not invest in a few costumes, hats, and accessories? If you buy right after Halloween, you can accumulate lots of items that lend themselves to creative play. Favorite items for my three children included capes, hats with feathers, and scepters/swords (plastic, of course). As a child grows, role playing becomes more involved, and you will probably be treated to “shows” of his or her own creation.

2. Play with Food

Pre-schoolers love to play with food, so why not let them do just that by pretending to be chefs? They benefit from this food play by learning about texture, about liquids and solids, and about measuring. During the summer it is easy to set up an area for food play. Cover a picnic table with a washable table cloth or with newspaper. Then provide bowls of different foods. Oats, flour, sugar, cocoa, water, eggs, and food coloring can provide hours of mixing fun. Yes, your child will get dirty, but clean up will be a breeze if you use the hose outside. (Remember, it is OK for a child to take tiny tastes of their concoctions, but they should never consume raw eggs).

3. Open an Imaginary Store

This game involves creating your own store. All your child needs is a play cash register. You can help your child price items to “sell.” This game works best in a small room, where you can place the items for sale in various spots. If you play grocery store, you may want to save clean egg cartons, milk containers, butter tubs, sour cream containers, and other such items. Plastic food can also be bought at toy stores. Once your child understands the concept, he or she will want to play “store owner” often.

4. Fly an Airplane (or Magic Carpet)

This game is wonderful for parents who want to rest. Hop on a bed with your pre-schooler, then pretend to fly. He or she can be the captain of the plane or a genie on a magic carpet. Sit back, relax…and watch your child’s imagination soar!

  1. Natasha says:

    My kids love dress up too. Brand new capes can be found at gracecapes.com
    They really bring out the smile in them.

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