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January 13, 2013

The ABC's of Imaginative Play {Learn} K - O

Well I didn't intend to leave anyone hanging  after the letter J!  This was intended to be a five day series, but as often happens, life got in the way.  The ABC's of Imaginative Play is a series I'm doing along with with many other fabulous bloggers which you can read about at This Reading Mama.  

Previous posts in this series:

Today we are focusing on the letters K - O with an emphasis on learning.

K is for kitchen.  There is lots of imaginative play to be done in the kitchen, both through real cooking and pretend.  I love to have my boys join me in the kitchen.  Scones are one of our favorite things to bake together.  I enjoy their help with scones, because it has the added sensory element for them.

When we bake we closely follow the recipe.  I talk about the importance of using the correct amounts of ingredients and why it matters to mix some ingredients together before combining with others.  As much as following directions is important in cooking I also like to give them opportunities to freely mix and combine.  I can't in good conscience waste food, so I avoid waste by using food scraps that would otherwise be tossed.

Other fun ways to incorporate kitchen play include:

Toddler Inspired Cooking with Playdough by Connecting Family and Seoul

Playdough Cupcakes Invitation to Play from My Nearest and Dearest

Pretend Baking PLay Dough Cupcakes

Playing in the kitchen open the doors for a multitude of sensory experiences and learning.  Positive experiences in the kitchen can lead to a love for cooking.  I have a husband who enjoys cooking and shares the workload with me.  I hope to raise sons who will one day do the same.

L is for learn.  Children learn so much through imaginative play.  They learn empathy, problem solving, history, taking turns, teamwork and much more.  Imaginative play opens up worlds not otherwise accessible to little ones.  There are places they might never actually step foot on, but they can visit these places in their imaginations.

As a homeschooling mom I do my best to avoid too much seat work for my five year old and instead teach through hands on experiences.  I would rather read a good book with JZ about Christopher Columbus and act out his voyage with costumes and pretend ships than by doing worksheets or simply memorizing facts.

Remember being a kid and thinking that you knew everything?  Then as a teenager you really knew everything?  At some point in adulthood we realize that we are never actually going to know everything.  Ideally we learn something every day.  Our children can teach us so much.  Mine have taught me what unconditional love really is.  They have taught me patience and creativity and many other valuable lessons.  I'm highlighting learning in this series about imaginative play, because I want to encourage other parents to never stop learning.  

Learn about what you don’t know.  We are blessed to be raising children in the days of the internet.  Yes there are scary parts, but there are also benefits.  Sometimes one of my boys asks me about something I don’t know, and it is so easy to look it up and answer him quickly!  (Always be aware of the credibility of the source when looking up information on the internet.)

M is for mixing toys.  I used to have the rule that JZ could play with one toy (or type of toys) at a time, then he had to put it away before taking out something else.  I want to teach my children good habits, and picking up after themselves is one of them.  A friend of mine pointed out that she likes her daughters to have freedom to combine toys and use them in different ways.  Since that conversation I changed my rule.  Without intending to I was limiting JZ's imagination!  Of course I still require that toys are put away when they are no longer in use, but while in use they are free to play with as many toys as they'd like.

This is not a great photo, but a perfect example came up last week.  J-Bug (3) was playing with his Star Wars Pods then suddenly ran over to his Jake and the Neverland Pirate ship and grabbed SKully.  I would have never included a parrot in Star Wars play, but in his head it made perfect sense.

N is for no.  I like giving my children a lot of freedom.  I try to give them options when possible.  Sometimes as parents we just have to say no.  Whether the reason is lack of money, time, weather restrictions or something else, sometimes there is no option besides no.  One thing I have done lately is offer an imaginative suggestion when I have to say no to a play request.  J-Bug especially enjoys imaginative games.  I can easily get his mind off of his request by fabricating an imaginative tale or playing a game of "What if?"  This method doesn't work with all children, but it's worth a shot!  My five year old sometimes rolls his eyes at me when I make these suggestions, but other times he joins in the fun and takes over the made up story.

O is for open ended.  Some activities have a starting point and an ending.  Doing a puzzle or baking a cake are complete was the task is done.  Other activities are open ended and make for wonderful imaginative play.  Sensory bins are a perfect example of open ended play.  Children can run their hands in the sensory material, scoop, dump, pour, transfer, make up stories, and play for hours.

Some of our favorite sensory bins:

Blocks and other building toys are wonderfully open ended:

Painting and creating are other ways to enjoy open ended fun and let the imagination take charge:

Coming soon:  Letters P - T!

Here is the list of blogs posting Mom Tips and Tricks in the ABC series:

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