Ever heard the saying, ‘imaginations run wild’? Well, early years learning is all about that. Ideas and curiosity among children is what helps them to develop and imaginative play should definitely be encouraged, as early on as possible. In doing so, children can explore beyond their wildest imagination and without any physical constraints.
If imaginative play is a skill you really want to expand in your outdoor setting, here are some ‘imaginative’ ideas to get you started.
What Is Imaginative Play?
Imaginative play can include a range of activities and doesn’t necessarily need to include toys. It’s often easy to rely and fall back on physical toys as they can be brilliant at getting a reaction from children but imaginative play can do that too. Children’s ability to expand on initial ideas will soon become the norm and continue to play a crucial role in their imaginative learning.
How Can Imaginative Play Be Encouraged?
When it comes to imaginative play, there is no right or wrong. It’s simply about having enough time to let children explore and providing the encouragement they need to keep going with their evolving ideas. While some might think that extensive space is also a big factor to the benefits of imaginative play, it doesn’t need to be. Plenty of imaginative play can take place in smaller settings too, it’s more about making the most of the space you have.
Start with a blank canvas such as our rustic stage or amphitheatre where children of all ages can come together in small groups and share their imaginative ideas. Start them off with a simple task that requires them to perform and gain confidence in these drama-style outdoor classrooms.
If being adventurous is an approach that you think could really spark imaginative play, check out these wooden climbing frames complete with active and adventure units. A great way to run their very own obstacle course (Tough Mudder style), or by going on their very own nature trail, this outdoor playground equipment can be used to encourage some healthy competition, organisation and team-building skills. Children can partner up in pairs or small teams to create challenges and use their imagination to extend beyond what they see in front of them. Not only will this stimulate their cognitive skills, it doubles up in working on physical abilities too.
Music is another brilliant benefit of imaginative play that could really get children excited. Our popular Bongos Music Play Panel, Rustic Music Centre and Flower Drum make plenty of noise for children to have their very own ‘jam session’. Use these while belting out some classic nursery rhymes and encourage children to find the beat or task them with creating their very own song.
Which Skills Can Be Developed During Imaginative Play?
The list is endless! From role play to communication and some serious creativity, getting involved in imaginative play will do wonders to stimulate children.
A great one to get them started is by playing ‘house’. Check out our Woodland Activity House where children can mimic the roles of their parents, siblings and even their own home environment as they show off their adult side. Encouraging their imagination in a setting like this can really open up the fun things children like to do at home and could help them to remember their daily routine through their imaginative communication. This role play setting can be a great way for children to show their own emotions as well as those towards others which is very important in early years learning and development.
For imaginative learning that requires problem solving and even perhaps some organisation, our outdoor train is a fun way to stimulate children in another outdoor space. They can take it in turns to board the train, work out how many children it can seat and add in extra skills such as train arrival and departure times. It really doesn’t matter whether children have been on a train or not, this stimulating experience allows them to learn about the real life experience.
Why Is Imaginative Play Important?
The earlier children can get involved in imaginative play, the better. This can lead to confidence, encourage them to explore alone or with others and above all – boost their creativity. Fuelling their imagination doesn’t require much, just the right starting point and ongoing encouragement. Getting the most out of children’s imaginations can come from a range of outdoor equipment and play spaces, who knows what they’ll surprise you with. ‘It’s all in their imagination’.
How Can Red Monkey Play Help You?
Imaginative play boasts a whole range of developmental benefits from building confidence to communication and creativity. If you’re looking to encourage imaginative play within your school or home, then our team at Red Monkey Play is on hand to help with recommendations or advice!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Leicester office on 0116 366 9922 or our London office on 020 38445 525 to book a free consultation.