Spring just shouts "send the kids outside to play"! I am always looking for ways to foster imaginative pretend play so we created an imaginary play space in our backyard with a few items we found around our house and yard.
Whilst there is a place for construction play (eg. blocks, lego, etc), fine motor activities (eg. craft, beads, eye droppers, etc), gross motor activities (eg. skipping, hopping, jumping, etc), sensory play (eg. playdough, slime, water beads), structured games (eg. uno, board games, etc) ... imaginary pretend play is important for a broad range of child development.
"Pretend play is strongly linked to language, narrative language, abstract thought, problem solving, logical sequential thought, creation of stories, social competence with peers, understanding a social situation, integration of emotional, social and cognitive skills, and the ability to play with others in the role of a ‘player’." (Karen Stagnitti- Children need to play!) In my words, pretend play is important for school readiness with the development of skills for talking, listening, writing, reading as well as interaction with adults and other children. It provides a safe environment to explore and experiment with ideas and opinions.
Mr 5 and Miss almost-9 years helped me to create the imaginary play space. We used a section of the garden that is usually not "explored". I placed bricks as stepping stones around the trees and plants, then handed over to the kids to create the space with coloured stones (leftover from this project), chalk, craft sticks and stretchy lizards. Mr 5 also used his digger and spade to do some rearranging of the dirt and leaves.
Once the space was "created", Mr 5 and Miss almost-9 years set about playing in the space. The stretchy lizards became the characters living in their new "homes". There were lots of adventures over several days as they explored, found food, visited each other, played in their ponds, etc.
Lizards may not be popular with your kids...you could create homes for fairies, elves, dragons, dinosaurs, snakes or whatever may interest your child. If you don't have a patch of garden you could create a play space using a tray, a large plastic box, an old tyre, some empty garden pots or some old kitchen pans.
When Miss almost-9 yrs was younger we created a fairy garden in a tray, birds nests and "soups" collecting things around the garden to make these creations. Sometimes kids need just a little prompting to foster their imagination and play!
Do your kids like imaginary play? Have you created imaginary play spaces outdoors?
Apologies to slow replies to emails and comments. I'm going on vacation tomorrow for two weeks! I will pop up on FB now and again (because I can't help myself)!
Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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