Kas Winters

Use Imaginative Play


Kas Winters

Mother of Family Ideas

Use imaginative play to help children think more clearly in class.

by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™

Provide materials and tools to encourage creativity. There is a huge difference between electronic gadgets that do all the thinking, kits and projects that give instructions to make an item that looks just like the one on the cover, and truly imaginative play. Often, activities which stimulate brain activity require no materials or tools at all.

Many of these can be used when traveling in a car, waiting someplace, taking a walk or when you are working on a project together, such as preparing dinner or cleaning.

Try word games. Rhyme words. Start with a word, and each player adds a rhyming word until someone can’t think of any others. At that point, they are “rhymed out.” They select a new word and the game continues. Listen for starting letters and try to think of things in a given category that begin with the letter chosen. For example: “My name is Alberta. My husband’s name is Albert. We live in Arizona. We like to eat Apples and watch the movie Avatar.” Then move to the letter “B” and so forth.

Another thinking game works the memory. Begin with a simple sentence: “I’m going to grandma’s and I’m packing artichokes.” Each player adds another item (alphabetical or random) and the next player has to remember the entire list. It might be something like: “I’m going to grandma’s and I’m packing artichokes, a baseball, curtains, my dog, electric eels, frozen French Fries and a garbage bag . . .” Adding silly items can bring on the giggles, which makes thinking more fun, and memorable too. There are many variations, and thinking up new ones is another way to spark ideas. Number games improve the mind’s abilities to calculate. Add numbers in your head. Count things. Count all the yellow items in your field of view, everything you see that is smaller than a basketball, all the 18 wheelers on the road, or the number of books on a shelf. Turn it into play by setting a timer to see who can get the longest list before the bell goes, “Ding!”

Make up stories. Invite a child to create characters, settings, and situations and develop a story line. I can be simple or complex and may be verbal or written. If necessary, ask questions about characters. What do they look like? What are their favorite things to do? Do they have siblings, pets, friends, toys, favorite colors or places? Where do they live? What is the weather like in the story? What things do your characters see or hear? Prime the pump with a few questions and let a child take over and answer questions of their own. This can also be taken to the next step, where a child writes and even illustrates their tale.

Provide tools for children and help them learn to use them. (Of course, keep safety in mind and teach proper use and maintain a watch whenever a child is using a tool that can cause an accident or injury.) Kids love the feeling of “Look what I can do!” This not only helps them to picture themselves as capable, but it will often spur a thought process that asks more questions. What else can I do with this? Are there other ways I can use this? Would this technique work for . . . ? When children are exposed to woodworking tools, kitchen gadgets, mechanic’s tools, sewing items, office equipment, garden tools etc., they begin to build a mental collection of items that can solve problems. As they grow, they will have a repertoire of possibilities for doing and fixing things and this can translate into feeling confident about solving mental puzzles, testing in school and other sorts of things requiring creative solutions.

Involve a child or children in the game of “What if?” and let them think to come up with answers. “What could you do (or not do) if you were 12 feet tall?” “What would happen if added water to . . . ? “What kind of a party would you like to have if you could choose the theme?” “If you lived on a different planet with less gravity, what new games could you play, what problems might that create?” If you could design a postage stamp for a new country, what would it look like?

True learning doesn’t require electricity, a lot of “stuff,” or even a great deal of parents’ time. Initiate play that involves creative thinking to encourage the use of imagination and memory. The resulting brain activity tends to carry over into classes and so does the sense of feeling capable. That’s a good way to head a student toward success in the classroom and in life.

Have Fun,

Kas Winters
Play today. For more ideas for September family activities, go to http://www.winmarkcom.com/septemberholidays.htm  For more than 5,000 activities for toddlers through teens, check out my book, Mother Lode at http://www.winmarkcom.com/motherlode.htm.
Check out my NEW book Get that Book out of your Head and into Print


Kas Winters, “Mother of Family Ideas”

Winmark Communications & Everything Family