After looking over all the options in the Halloween dress-up section Dagny settled on Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. Pretty appropriate, as this has been her favorite scenario to play act. Every day after preschool we head to the school’s playground for 20-30 minutes of dramatic play – almost always involving Belle, Gaston, her father, and the Beast. Every Sunday after church for weeks this has also been the scenario at the park across the street. Why do kids love play acting? What’s so great about it, especially for the 10,000th time?
The timing of when she wants to do this activity lends credibility to the discussion that it is a way for a child to wind down. It allows her to escape the real world where she is the student. The expectation to keep her listening ears open and her body calm is not easy for young children. By allowing her this time to bridge into lunch after preschool she is able to eat and take her nap with less anxiety. That’s a plus for me!
Social Skills & Problem Solving
It’s a safe place to practice social skills. Is it acceptable to shout and punch? No? She tries another tact all while in the cocoon of imaginative play. What about problem solving? How can I get rid of this rude Gaston, so I can be with my love, the Beast? (We have done everything from releasing a witches brew of frogs on him, to bringing up the draw bridge so he just can’t get in the castle.) What if Gaston changes his ways? Will he meet his true love? What is love? How about showing off those fancy table manors? Go ahead give it all a whirl.
When the child is in her imagination, she is talkative, watching body language and listening. Watch her try out new words and expressions.
Learning to recognize another characters pain, joy, or sadness translates into empathy. Oh no! The Beast is hurt!
Imagination & Tips to Encourage It
By stretching her imagination, the world grows smaller and options become more plentiful. Have you ever played the game “What Can This Do?” Pick a simple object and take turns coming up with ideas on how to use it. It doesn’t matter if the idea would actually work or be practical. For example – A brick – What can we use this for?
Here’s a short list of things we came up with –
- A dinner plate
- Fishing weight
- Angry Birds launch pad
- Angry Birds missile
- “Catch” object
- Hot Potato
- Trailer Leveler
- Back Scratcher
- Flour Mill / Spice grinder / Garlic crusher
- Painting Canvas / Art project
What can I do with this? Game is a great game to play with kids of any age to help them stretch their imagination. Take time each day with your child – allowing them to be “in charge” and set the rules, explain the game, and lead the play. Play along with them, “Yes, I’d love more tea my darling!” Allow your kids to help you expand your imagination along with theirs. Imagination makes adults more creative at work and at home. Having an active imagination in adulthood allows for more creative and flexible problem solving. For example, when I started working from 1 AM – 7 AM as a baker, I was in bed during our typical family dinner. I would have lunch with Dagny and my husband would have supper with her. What about family meal time? We decided to flip the script and meet in town after I got off work and eat as a family breakfast. I bake a quiche and other easy-to-reheat breakfast items and we eat before Dagny goes to school or Terry goes to work. It’s different, but gets us together as a family!
Learning to open up to the possibilities is probably the #1 thing my daughter has taught me. What are ways you have learned from your kids?