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Admit it, even we as adults find it difficult sometimes to spark our imagination. The daily tasks we must do is draining and can leave your brain fried. Sometimes, we just need to take a moment to breathe and find something creative that we enjoy doing to feel alive again. And sometimes as parents, we are so focused on making sure our kids are developing according to charts or other kids their age. It’s a lot of pressure on both the parent and child to “fit in” and be “normal” that we forget about letting our children use their imagination. Which is an important step in learning and gives them a sense of identity and self-expression. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Here are five ways to ignite your child’s imagination.
- Engage in wordless books and let your kids tell you a story by just looking at what is illustrated on the page. Wordless picture books encourage your child to tell the story. They can make up names for the characters and places in the book as well as add dialogue and feelings. Ask your child questions to sequence events such as the beginning, middle, and end parts of the story. A good set to start with is the Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker. My kids love these books! Some times the story changes, but the names remain the same for them. As an activity we do together, I enjoy reading books with them the most. It encourages the love of books and language development.
- Movies or shows that have no or little dialogue also allows my kids to wonder what will happen next. My kids love watching the Disney Pixar animation, Wall-E. It has very little dialogue because the main characters are robots. The brilliance of the film lies within the sequence of events and the music. Sure, I got a ton of questions the first few times we watched the movie together, but that just sparked my kids’ curiosity even more. Also, its a great movie to teach your kids about taking care of their planet. Now when my children see trash on the ground, they always refer back to Wall-E and how they love their planet Earth. Other great wordless animations can be found in Disney Pixar short films and on YouTube. My daughter loves watching this Pingu series on YouTube about a family of penguins. Another one she likes is this short animated one (she loves penguins). One of my favorites is this one titled, Soar, on Vimeo.
- Tell them a make-belief story right before bed time. Then next time, ask them to tell you a story. At first, story time was just a quick distraction for putting my kids’ fears to rest when they started sleeping on their own bed (we co-sleep). I would tell them funny make-belief stories so they wouldn’t get scared and sleep on their own. It helped a lot and then my oldest started making up his own stories to tell us. Just the other night right before bedtime prayers, he started out his story like this, “Once upon a time there was a boy, Anakin. Anakin was playing at the park with his friends, the Autobots (he’s into Transformers). Mama and Daddy said, “Let’s go Anakin.” and Anakin rolled out…” It’s seriously the most amusing time out of the day for me. I love hearing their made up stories that usually tell what kind of day they had. My son also likes saying his own bedtime prayers now and some of the things he asks God for are so sweet- such as, a bigger heart. I wish I had a camera on me 24/7 so I could record some of these precious moments.
- Bring in the props. A big empty cardboard box is the cheapest tool out of this list and the ideas are endless. I always joke that my kids play longer with an empty box than the toy itself. I don’t know what it is about an empty cardboard box, but I see kids eyes light up with imagination when they get to play with a big empty one. My kids have used it for a house, for different types of vehicles, for coloring and putting stickers on it. They’ve even used it for a game of Hide-and-Seek. I always ask for art supplies when family members ask me what they should get my kids as presents. We have a bench full of paints, PlayDoh, markers, crayons, papers, etc. And I admit, cleaning is a hassle, but if your kids are old enough to do chores than ask them to help with the clean-up. It can be turned into a game and be fun too!
- Travel. I added this last on the list because I understand that traveling is not something that everyone can do. As our family continues to grow, I find it more challenging to travel. We have to plan in advance, we have to pack more things, we have to make more stops and so on. But I do believe that traveling is very important in developing your child’s imagination. Traveling allows your child to see people and surroundings that they’re not accustomed to on a daily basis. My husband always says that he takes a different way home every day after work to stimulate his brain. I feel like traveling is the same way. It stimulates the brain when the child uses their senses for something new. They ask questions (tons of questions) and they allow that to seep into their memory banks for creative play at a later time. Traveling doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as taking your child to a nearby beach or go hiking (this is a great option as there are many things to see and do on hikes). Wherever you decide to go together, always make sure your child gets the most out of it by asking them open-ended questions.
I hope this short list of ideas help you and your child in igniting their creative minds. Do you have a favorite book or movie that you think helps? I would love to hear your ideas too. Drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply.