Monday, November 26, 2007

A toddler's imagination

I love watching my toddler play. That moment when he's not tired, not hungry, not sick... when life is great!
My toddler is usually pretty good at amusing himself, and he does, but then there are these beautiful moments when his is so caught up in his world of make believe that he's not even aware I'm there and that I'm watching him out of the corner of my eye.
I love hearing him do the voices for his Little People or talk to his imaginary pet as he is feeding it a bowl of clothes pegs and it is so much fun when he gets to dress up. I love watching the transformation from builder with his hardhat, safety vest and tool belt to the pink fairy with lacy wings and tulle.
From the time he could walk, he has enjoyed pretend tea parties, cooking and playing shops and I am excited to see how these games will continue to become more and more sophisticated in the months and years to follow.
It's interesting because my son has a lot of toys and yet when I look around at the things that he gets the most pleasure from, they’re not the toys that have buttons to press and something happens or his toy laptop that plays a bit of music; it’s the things that he can really play with over and over again in so many different ways using his imagination.

In our house we have a dress-up corner where we have a mixture of old clothing, personal accessories (hats, costume jewelry, wigs etc) mixed with animal, clown and fairy costumes. We have a shopping/home corner with a big tub of plastic food, cash register, toaster, kettle, microwave, dolls, high chair, toy pram, shopping trolley and baskets etc. A puppet theatre (from my days as a primary teacher) with a big tub of various sized puppets. I often make up a play and then encourage my toddler to do one too. My toddler also loves to play with the dolls house or with his variety of trucks, buses, planes and cars. A sun tent outside with a few different objects placed in it always attracts instant amusement and the ideal situation for a made-up game and finally (I could gone on and on as I love to create environments that induce learning)... the back yard! Now believe me when I say that, to me, our backyard is far from exciting in fact it is desperate need of Backyard Blitz however my two children love it when I open the gate and let them free to explore... they do. I find that the best time (during the warmer months) is late afternoon from about 4pm onwards I will just let them be free to play in the dirt and the grass and when they come in (or I drag them in) they just go straight in to the bath for some more fun.
So just remember, from the pages of "Almost anything can be a prop for imaginative play. Towels become turbans, plastic beads become precious jewels, old bathroom rugs transmogrify into magic carpets, and your toddler's mound of stuffed animals transforms itself into a rainforest, animal hospital or farm.

Believe it or not, the best props for imaginative play are often simple ones. Since most of the action takes place inside your child's head, detailed costumes -- such as those specific to particular movie characters, for instance -- aren't really that helpful. A Batman suit can only be a Batman suit. But with a plain hat and towel, a child can be a lot of different characters. Exposing your child to as many real people, places and events as possible is the best way to ensure he'll have lots of ideas to draw on when pretending time comes". ENJOY!

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