Burnt Toast Blog
Toddlers and Imagination
by Carmen Scott
Category: Articles, Information & Tips on Parenting
I was in Toys R Us recently and found my way to the very popular "Pink Aisle". Now I like Barbie just as much as the next person, we were born in the same decade. However, this got me thinking about what you can do with a Barbie. You can dress her, you can pose her, you can place her in her house or her car and you can have her play with other toys. This seems to me quite a limited way to encourage imagination.
A great way to encourage imagination is by using everyday items and playing out everyday situations. This allows your toddler to create their own private world, by including their day to day experiences from watching you shop, cook, and interacting with the world.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Save your junk mail, old envelopes and stamps for toddlers to play post office.
Set up a grocery store in your living room. Have a dry good section, produce section, Dairy section etc. It's never too early to talk about the 5 food groups. Get them to take turns being the shop keeper and the customer. Use play money and some reusable cloth bags, imagination, counting and social responsibility. Now that's what I call learning through play.
You can make an indoor sandbox by filling a large plastic container with puffed wheat, rice, lentils or beans. This is a great place to use their toy trucks and cars, and items such as measuring spoons and cups on a day that you can't get outside.
Recycle that clear plastic shower curtain and make it into a play mat. Simply lay it out, take a sharpie and create a customized map of countries, roads and buildings, real or imaginary. Your children can use their plastic farm animals and cars. Perhaps they''ll go on a family vacation or road trip to a far off kingdom.
You can use pizza and restaurant menus to set up a restaurant in your house. Have the kids set the table, take your order and serve the food. Raisins, graham wafer crackers and apple juice were always on my daughter's menu.
Setting up an animal hospital can be fun! This time of year most "stuffies" seem to get the flu. Have your toddler take temperatures, splint a broken leg or dispense medicine.
Don't forget to include picture books. These are great for changing the story each time you read them. Have your toddler make up a story or take turns telling what happens on each page.
Remember, expensive toys are not required to stimulate your child's imagination; everyday items can be part of the world of magic that toddlers create for themselves.