Play is a big part of childhood. So is imagination! In this article we thought we’d give you some ideas of imagination games you can play with toddlers and young kids.
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1) The ‘magic socks’ imagination game
We got this imagination game from watching an episode of Gilmore Girls (we admit it). In the show, Lorelai babysits Suki’s kids and mentions she brought the magic socks, but she won’t tell daddy what they do, because it’s a secret.
Later we find out that the magic socks took a little boy to faraway lands, like the jungle, where he has to kick to get there! Want some detail? Below is the script of Lorelai’s game as she describes it! (No one describes her mind better than Lorelai herself).
LORELAI: All right. Come here. Let’s see your magic socks. Let’s see ’em. Come here. Where do you want to go?
DAVEY: The jungle.
LORELAI: The jungle? You better start kicking. Start kicking to get to the jungle. Kick! Kick! You got to kick to get there. Where’s your tiger…
LORELAI: Hi. Wow, you’re home early. I’m sorry it’s such a mess. Um, the magic socks took us back in time. We were cavemen. It was really bleak, so we lived like this. I would’ve cleaned up, but when they woke up, the magic socks were gonna take us to an orphanage in England where they had to tidy up in exchange for one teaspoon of gruel.
2) ‘Playing house’ – one of many classic imagination games
This is one you probably remember from your childhood. Maybe you had a play kitchen to spark the imagination game too. Playing house is an understandable instinct for little kids to have (even boys!) because it involves imitating the adults in their life. Imitation is how kids learn.
With your child, you can use a doll or teddy bear to be the ‘baby’, some plastic plates for ‘cooking’ and hey, maybe you can get some real chores done in the process! The laundry basket can be a car driving home or to work after the clothes are in the washing machine.
The key here is to not worry if you don’t have all the fancy equipment from the toy stores. Some playrooms in your house might have the plastic or cloth food toys, or the pretend toasters and microwaves. But don’t worry if yours doesn’t. Wooden blocks can easily turn into imaginary food items. And the couch can become the kitchen. The more imaginative, the better!
3) ‘Playing shop’ game
This one is a lot like playing house. The idea is described here. The benefit of this game is that it can help your kids learn how to count money. They can apply their new skills by trying to buy something all by themselves at the next McDonald’s or candy store trip!
4) ‘I’m a superhero’ game
Ok, we have to warn you parents, this might involve jumping and makeshift defence quarters made of couch cushions. But only go this route if you want to enjoy every minute of it! This also works with army battle games. Multiple story lines can be developed to help along your little conquerors!
This imagination game may also involve creativity, such as turning blankets into capes, and colanders into helmets or shields. You may need some baby dolls to ‘rescue’ and some enemies, like the big bad la-z-boy chair.
Some will tell you not to worry about rough play with these types of imagination games, if they occur. This is because boys need a way to let out all that aggressive energy. This video, titled, ‘War on Boys’ explains more on this matter. Although, we realize girls may want to participate in this type of play too. We also encourage you to do more research on the matter, if rough play is a concern to you as a parent.
5) ‘Guess what animal I am’ game
This is a great talking and observation game, which may help improve vocabulary as descriptions are voiced. It also introduces some mimicking and acting. The premise is extremely simple. You simply think of an animal, give some clues, and the other person has to guess. More clues until the guess is correct! Then you switch roles
The rest of the rules are up to you! You can limit the amount of questions, or ask for only sounds or silent actions. The funnier the better!
Time to work on your ‘woof-woof’ and ‘meows’!
Do you have imagination games you play with your child? Share them! Feel free to make suggestions to your daycare provider about games that your children can play with peers or early childhood educators.
See more related articles from our daycare blog!
- The power of father involvement in early childhood development
- Should young children be using electronics and media?
- Educational toys for early childhood development