Years ago, children did not have electronic toys and video games to play with. All they had were things like dolls and dollhouses, toy cars and jump ropes. No matter what toys they played with, they had to use their imagination to a certain extent.
Today, kids have all sorts of electronic toys to choose from. Even many books talk and allow children to interact with them. While there are benefits to these types of toys, it is still important to let a kid’s imagination flourish. Here are some toys that encourage imagination and creativity, providing learning opportunities that many modern toys do not.
* Play-Doh – It has been around for decades, but Play-Doh has withstood the test of time. It can get messy, but letting your kids play with it can bring forth imagination like few other things can. Your child will make all sorts of things with it and you can help by providing tools that make interesting shapes and textures.
* Dress-Up Clothes – Playing dress-up is a great activity for kids. Providing a variety of costume pieces for boys and girls lets them design their own outfit. That can lead to pretending to be any number of people or things, and imagination is a prerequisite for pretending.
* Blocks – Blocks come in many shapes and sizes these days. Any of them are good for encouraging imagination. Old-fashioned wooden blocks have the added benefit of teaching kids how balancing works. Soft blocks are safe for smaller children. Legos interlock to allow children to move their creations from place to place. All of these allow children to build virtually anything they want with a little creativity.
* Dolls and Action Figures – Dolls and action figures that do not talk make it necessary for a child to put words into their mouths. That requires plenty of imagination. Your child can make up stories and scenarios featuring them and she might ask you or a sibling or friend to play the part of another doll or figure. If it is possible to change their clothing or use props with them, that’s even better.
Imagination is not only a fun way to learn, it is also effective. While children may learn such things as letters, numbers and even phonics from electronic toys, they are no substitute for learning by doing. Imaginative play often leads children to figure things out for themselves and things learned that way are not soon forgotten.
Imaginative play also often results in a child asking questions that she might not have thought of otherwise. This gives the parent or caregiver a unique opportunity to teach her about things that she is specifically interested in. And it’s no secret that children who are interested in learning learn better.