(In paid partnership with The White Company)
Imagination: that spark of wonder and magic that comes from turning nothing into something wonderful! How do you ignite their imagination?
As parents, we’re all so busy with the day to day, that we might be missing opportunities to nurture their imagination. Imagining is a lifelong skill that our children need, just as much as being a good problem-solver or knowing how to ride a bike. So igniting their imagination from a young age is essential. I’ve partnered with The White Company to share six ways to inject some imagining in their everyday.
Bring books to life
I love making books come to life, for Sienna. Firstly we make sure we’re comfortable her all cotton dress from The White Company is perfect. We find a quiet spot and get cosy. The easiest and most effective way to bring books to life, is to give each character a unique voice. The more outrageous the better, as children love to hear silly voices. Don’t miss opportunities to explore the illustrations too. Ask questions about them, ‘what can you see?’, ‘what noise does that animal make?’. We’re reading a lovely book from The White Company (‘Town Mouse, Country Mouse’ by Libby Walden), which is full of beautiful illustrations. As the main characters are mice, I gave them high pitched voices and little actions. There are lots of other animals featured in the book, so I incorporated animal sounds too. Use props that help to explore the story further. So if its a book about baking, have some utensils to hold, and a piece of cake to taste. Finally get dressed up, even if it’s just funny hats. The key is to get all the senses going, to have things to feel, see, hear, touch and taste.
You can also ignite their imagination by sending them to a land far away, a jungle, deep space, the 1800’s, India, anywhere, by telling them a story. They can also help create the story, ask them which character they want in the story, which special item, what superpower. A little storytelling each day will help nurture their imagination. It only takes moments and the best part is, it can be done anywhere. So next time you’re in the car en route to the supermarket, tell a story.
We all know, if we give our children a cardboard box they will play with it for hours, right? There’s endless possibilities, racing cars, space rockets, trains, the list could go on forever. In our house, we like to have tea parties with our teddies. So Sienna was very happy to introduce Skipper the Toy Terrier to her gang of teddies. Just like her books, I give all her teddies voices too. We also have a dressing up box, full of Halloween outfits, Christmas fancy dress outfits, glasses, hats and scarves.
Stock up on your art supplies, a box or two filled with different items, paints, oil pastels, chalk, crayons, pencils, cotton wool pads, old Christmas cards, magazines, glue sticks, tissue paper. You name it, I have it all. Try to incorporate nature too, with leaves and twigs. Have these on hand so they can choose as and when they want to create.
Create sensory boxes
Sensory boxes are great fun for little ones and they soak up so much information from them. A good place to start are seasonal boxes. Collect things from your walks like leaves and twigs. Then add a scarf, a woolly hat, books about Winter, pictures of snow and dried clementines. Each new season create a new box until you have all four. Each year, as a new season arrives, get your box out to explore and add to it again. Other fun boxes are holiday boxes, a rainy day box, nature boxes, and history boxes, like a Viking box.
Having distinct areas for different play will encourage their imagination and creativity. It allows them to choose what to do, how to do it and who with. Have a few different areas set up, a reading nook, an art station, a toy corner (if you can contain all those toys in one corner, I have no idea how they end up with so many toys?). To create a lovely reading nook, gather some comfortable items, (The White Company have a beautiful and affordable range of cushions, cushions, rugs and blankets) and place them next to a little bookshelf – you can even add a little reading light. When I read with Sienna, we go to her nook and she chooses the book. It’s lovely that she has a space for quiet or noisy reading.