How to spark imaginary play

Imaginary play is vital for children’s development. As they engage in creative play and their imaginations blossom, they’re actually developing skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

Engaging in imaginary play gives them the space to make their own decisions, develop their own personalities and practice social skills.

It’s easy for adults to undervalue the importance of imaginative play. We’ve already made sense of our surroundings (for the most part!) and have carved our own space in the world.

Children are constantly exposed to new experiences that they need to understand. It’s through play that they can get to grips with the complex social world we’ve created.

children enjoying imaginary play on a role play train

What are the benefits of imaginary play?

Children get lots of social and developmental benefits from engaging with imaginary play. During pretend play with other children, they actually put themselves in the position of someone else and can develop empathy and gain a greater understanding of other people’s experiences.

Imaginative play is often very physical. It includes lots of moving around, overcoming obstacles and completing challenges. This is great for physical development, spatial awareness and their fine motor skills.

They also develop skills in cooperation, negotiation and collaboration. As they make up scenarios, they assign roles and responsibilities in the game and work together while they play. This isn’t always simple and when problems come up, they learn to manage negative emotions and complex social situations.

When defining the game with others, children practice their language, communication and listening skills too. They begin learning how to explain their ideas to others and incorporate different thoughts from others into the game.

How can we spark imaginary play?

Give them space

There are lots of ways we can encourage children to engage in imaginary play. The easiest place to start is by giving them space in your house, garden or at your local park. Cover your dining room table with a blanket to transform it into a secret hide out for your child, give over a corner of the room to an independent play space, or take them to a park with lots of tunnels and tower systems.

Offer prompts

You should also give your children items and toys they can use while they play. You don’t have to spend a fortune, they’ll benefit just as much, if not more, when playing with normal household items. They’ll mimic your actions and practice every day activities like cooking a meal (sauce pan and spoon), going shopping (putting items in a bag) or talking on the phone (with a toy phone or old mobile). The options are endless!

Go outdoors

Image Playgrounds also offer a range of playground equipment that can help spark imaginary play. We offer specific role play equipment like trains, boats, shops and tractors to guide children’s imaginations when at play. Our tower equipment offers a fun challenge as well as the perfect base for imaginative play.

children playing together on playground climbing equipment

Get in touch

Getting children involved with imaginary play is easy and can be very rewarding. Simply give them the space to make their own play decisions and provide toys and prompts as necessary.

As always, if you’d like any more information about our playground design and installation services, please get in touch. We offer a free site survey and 3D design for every playground.

Image Playgrounds offer playground design services
Free design and consultation

Interested in seeing what our designers can create for you?

Our team have years of experience planning and designing playgrounds. We can help you choose the equipment that best suits your requirements, budget and space.

Why not drop us a line today and get the ball rolling?

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