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Friday, February 22, 2013

Guest Post - Ways to Help Your Kids Use Their Imaginations

Today, I have a guest post for you on helping your kids play pretend.


All young children love to pretend and it is important in those early years to help them develop their imaginations. I have thought a lot about how some people have such great imaginations and how others seem to be totally without imagination at all. I feel that I fall on the middle road in between somewhere.

I was thinking about what my childhood was like and was wondering about what causes some people to be more imaginative than others. I do believe you are born with certain characteristics but I also believe that imagination can be developed even further in a child’s life by our parents, our surroundings, teachers, and friends.

I happened to be the middle child in between two brothers. My dad traveled a lot and my mother was working constantly to clean house, cook, and make everything as perfect as possible in our home. I was born in the latter part of the fifties and communicating with your children was not what it is today. My dad was still of the school of children were seen and not heard. My mother talked to me a lot about cooking, cleaning, and making a nice home because that was her life. She also talked to all of us about the Lord Jesus and taught us how to have a relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

I tell you this so that you can see where I am coming from. Mom did tell us Bible stories which spurred the imagination but she was not a story teller and was not big into flamboyant narratives. And Dad, well, he was a salesman and he was good at it. He made a lot of people laugh but predominantly talked to the adults. I spent most of my time sitting and playing with my dolls, drawing pictures, coloring, or swinging on the porch swing or swing set. I did love to look up at the clouds to see what pictures I could see that the clouds made.

When I was in high school I took some art classes because I loved to draw, paint, and be creative. I was not any good at it really but I still enjoyed it. In that art class I sat next to a lovely girl that was extremely talented. I remember when we were using water colors and were told to paint anything I just sat there and could not think of a thing to paint. I was much better at still life drawings and paintings; I just could not see things in my mind. As I looked over at my friend her paint brush was moving over the paper with sweeping motions, I could see she had the picture already on the paper and she was just filling in the blanks. When she was finished, and it did not take her long, there was a story on that paper of a beautiful girl in a long dress blowing in the wind, in the middle of a field of flowers on a sunny day. I was in awe. This was no high school water color.

But the thing that amazed me and still to this day amazes me is how people see these pictures in their minds and then copy them on paper so perfectly. I believe some people are born with abilities but I also believe that imagination can be helped along by creative parents and teachers. I believe it needs to be started while children are very young, when everything is still a wonder to them.

I did my best to instill imagination into my children’s lives when they were young. I wanted them to have the creativeness that I felt I lacked. I also believe that it helps them to think through things in multiple scenarios which give them better decision making skills. Here are just a few of the things we did as they were growing up:

1. Reading stories in character – Both of my children loved it when I read books to them and used different voices for the characters. If it was an active book I would even act out some of the scenes. When children are small they love this because their imaginations are so wide open they can actually see the story unfolding like a staged play as they hear the voices and see the actions. It not only helps their imaginations but gives them a desire to read the book for themselves later to see it all over again in their minds.

2. Puppets and stuffed animals – My daughter loved puppets. She had a lot of hand puppets when she was young. Her first puppet was a rabbit in a magic hat. When you put your hand in he could pop in and out of the hat, you could make his ears wiggle, and his mouth moved. I could talk to her for hours with that puppet (I usually could not last that long), she would look at that puppet and have wonderful conversations. I did not try and disguise the fact that my mouth was moving but she gave me no never mind, she talked straight to her beloved rabbit. We talked about everything that was going on in her life and in the rabbit’s life. He told her stories about magic tricks and being on stage. She had tons of puppets and each one had their unique story. She would say, “Momma, let’s talk to the rabbit.” *smile*

Now my son is a different story. He would say, “Momma, it is just you talking!” He did not like the puppets. I am not sure if they freaked him out or he just did not like the idea that he thought he was being fooled, I just do not know. But he loved when I had a stuffed animal and I would act out stories with them. He had a particular favorite which was a black and white cow. I would tell him stories about the cow walking through the fields and eating grass but then he came upon a bee hive and did not know what it was. As he was investigating the bee hive the bees came out and started to chase him and sting him on the butt. The cow would jump and shake off his rear end and make eww and aww and ouch noises. My son would be rolling on the floor. This worked for him and there was a lot of action going on. Both of these make for wonderful memories as well. We ran across the cow the other day and he is twenty now. He looked at it and smiled. I asked him if he remembered the stories. “Of course Mom! Love you.”

3. Charades (our way) – Another game we played was our version of charades. We would pick a category such as animal, or movie, or even a person we all knew. Then we would each one take turns acting it out and having the others guess. Kids are so much fun to play this with because they can really act things out and if they are having trouble then you can get real demonstrative and help them out. Sometimes we would all get into it when we each had an opinion of how a certain animal walked or moved. It is a lot of fun and all of these activities have extra benefits of just being together and having fun.

4. Playing with blocks, action figures, or dolls – Building houses or castles with blocks and having action figures or dolls to tell stories with as you build them homes, encampments, or princess towers. Sitting with your children and making up stories as you do this and getting them involved in the lives of their doll/action figure characters is a great way to get their imaginations going. After you get them started they will continue the stories when they are playing alone or with siblings.

These are a few of the things we did when my children were younger, not only is it imagination building but a wonderful way to bond and learn about your children, and it's what makes them who they are. Today my oldest is twenty-seven and she is an avid reader and is a professional writer/editor. My son is in college and is a wonderful problem solver. He can think of so many ways to solve intricate problems in every area of life. I know that the times we shared when they were small encouraged them and their imaginations to succeed. Have fun with your children and grow some imagination!


Author Bio:

Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.


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