Imagination is such an important skill for children. This is something I feel so passionate about. My best memories from childhood are all the imaginary games my siblings and I used to play together, and I really hope my boys can build the same kind of memories for themselves. Imagination is a tool that opens so many doors, as it gives them the ability to come up with new ideas and maybe those ideas will spark new inventions and innovations for the next generation. Without imagination and creativity then where can progress come from?
I was happy to be invited along to the Imagination workshop which Maynards Discovery Patch held at London Zoo recently, to hear from child pyschologist Amanda Gummer and take part in activities alongside other parent bloggers.
We took part in 4 themed activities that each linked up with one of the new packs of Maynards Discovery Patch, and in each mini session we discussed games that we could play to work on different imagination skills with our kids.
The Magical Cave of Myths and Monsters
In this session we worked on easy activities for storytelling with our kids. The suggested game was working with a story stick, after agreeing on four main components to a story: the hero, the villain, the time and the place. My kids love to make up stories, or to have me make up crazy stories for them but I had’t thought of using this method.
To play the story stick game you first note the four components of the story which I just mentioned, and then each take it in turns to make up a line of the story, passing the stick around as you go. I like the idea of the stick to help support children with turn taking in such a visual and tactile way.
The Doctor’s surgery of body bits
Here we talked about making up games with everyday objects around the home. Games included blind folding one team member, giving them an object and asking them to touch and feel it before describing what they think it is. This is a simple and fun game that focuses on sensory exploration.
The safari animals
In this section we focused on performance as a means of developing imagination. We talked about using visuals to encourage children to describe or act out animals, to come out of their shell and learn through self discovery. This can be a great way to combine imagination with gross motor play, especially with the animal theme which will appeal to most children. My boys have a lot of energy and I have noticed that especially with my younger boys they do tend to prefer this type of imaginary play where they engage with their whole bodies and really get into character!
The Explore and Play app
Maynards Discovery Patch had invited us to come and take a look at their new augmented reality app. The app offers a way for children to combine technology with imagination. Technology does not have to be a barrier to imagination. When there is a balance between technology and more traditional forms of play then I feel that technology is just another great resource that can be used alongside these to allow children more variety in their play and learning.
The Maynards Discovery Patch Explore and Play app is an augmented reality app. First you must scan the code on the front of the sweets packet and then depending which themed packet you have you will be taken to a screen to hunt for a hidden shape and discover more about it. Each packet unlocks two variants. Each shape is split into 5 parts and when you find each of them you can unlock fun facts and animations.
The Explore and Play app is available for download from the app store or the google play store on android and also allows you to check out the ingredients and nutritional information for the sweets packs.
Dr Amanda Gummer’s top tips to promote an active imagination
- Not always giving children the answers to everything they ask, instead, it is beneficial for children to try and think about their own answers, so parents should feel free to enable this to happen
- Spark a child’s imagination with joint story time – the parent can start a story then it’s up to the child to continue it
- Using imaginative language. Phrases such as ‘I wonder what’ or ‘imagine if’ can help children think more imaginatively and incorporate hypothetical or fantasy ideas into their every day lives, helping them to imagine what it might feel like to be in a certain situation and empathise
Dr Amanda Gummer’s Top 5 Imagination Tools
- Augmented reality and interactive apps provide an exciting avenue for new depths of discovery during family playtime. They can excite a child’s imagination and help them to interact with ideas that they simply would not have thought about.
- The use of imagery or photos can help children to understand events that they have never experienced – e.g. imagining travelling to the moon via a photograph of an astronaut
- Pretend play can help children gain perspective- giving them an understanding of how to react
- Model play – parents can demonstrate what to do in a certain situation as this promotes creativity – acting out situations or scenarios can help them gain a clear understanding of how this might apply in real life
- Establishing a secure and safe environment where the child can freely express themselves, sharing made up songs or performing poems will enable them to learn through self discovery, safe in the knowledge that their parents are interested and supportive
If you want to read in more depth you can download Dr Amanda Gummer’s research review in full: Click here for the PDF file.