Imaginative play is something that all little ones take part in one way or another. When empty cereal boxes become an adventurous pirate ship or toilet roll tubes are transformed into an elephant's trunk, the wonders of imaginative play are well and truly at work! We all know that children love to play and create make-believe adventures, but why is this so important and how does it benefit them?
Why is imaginative play so important?When children use their imaginations during playtime they enter into a world full of exciting adventures. The little ones can use their own creativity to decide exactly what happens in their own imaginary world. Some types of toys and games have specific rules and the roles in these games are often already decided, which doesn't always leave much room for imagination and interpretation. However, encouraging the youngsters to think for themselves and have fun with their own creativity has huge benefits, and these wonderful benefits are explained below.
Learning about the world around themThe ability to explore the imagination while young is really valuable. When children are young, they're learning all sorts of things about the world around them at an incredibly speedy pace, and toys can provide a wonderful outlet for exploring and grasping these new found concepts.
Playing 'teachers' by sitting teddies on chairs in front of a blackboard lets the children imitate what they're experiencing in playgroup or school, and having a tea party with their friends or making a feast with lots of play food lets them copy activities they see at home. Children love to copy their role models, so imitating teachers, parents and grown-ups that are a big part of their life helps them to explore and understand these roles.
Playing with kitchen sets and play food is a perfect way of learning about certain food groups and how to use certain foods, as well as how to behave safely in a kitchen. These types of toys are perfect for friends to join in, too, so they can chat to each other about their delicious dinner plans and have fun cooking it together! Traditional toys such as dolls houses are also wonderful for teaching little ones about the world around them - making characters for the dolls involves lots of imagination and they can create fun conversations between the dolls, helping the little ones explore and understand how people interact. Moving the dolls around the house throughout the different rooms lets them imitate their real life home and family, as well as making their own imaginative adventures.
Learning how to interact with each otherThere is scope for lots of little ones to take part in imaginative play together, so friends and family can all join in the make-believe adventures. This is the perfect opportunity for lots of interaction and communication. If they're playing kitchens they can have a fun chat while drinking afternoon tea and if they're playing with a dolls house they can each create characters for the dolls and make conversations for them!
Communicating with each other helps children to develop their speech while also learning how to listen to others' ideas and opinions. Understanding how each other is feeling and appreciating that others' ideas are just as important, really helps to develop empathy which will benefit many areas of life in the future. Playing together also encourages them to see how sharing toys can be a really exciting, positive experience and enhances the scope for imaginative fun.
Developing speech is a really important part of childhood and by talking to each other during play the little ones are encouraged to learn from each other and explore different vocabulary. The enthusiasm for discussing how imaginative adventures are going to pan out is the perfect push to experiment with new words.
Developing Fine Motor Skills and DexterityPlaying with toys that include different shaped and sized pieces encourages children to use hand-eye coordination to be able to use them. For example, dolls house furniture includes lots of different accessories that little ones can move and position to decorate the rooms and the dolls can be sat on chairs or laid under the duvets on the beds - all of which require careful coordination.
Dolls house furniture includes little desks with drawers and kitchen cupboards with doors, while kitchen playsets include fruit that can be chopped using play knifes and cash registers that include coins and paper money that can be put into different compartments! This encourages lots of active play and movement, helping to develop dexterity as well as hand-eye coordination skills.