Imagination In A Box – by Lala Patrick

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    Now that Christmas is over, the children are having time to play with their electronic toys, dolls, and all the presents that were given.  They are so fun to receive and play with.  Walking in a toy store or a toy section of a store can be overwhelming and the wish list can get quite long before Christmas.  Christmas day is exciting to finally see what is in the wrapped gifts.  And now the children are getting time after Christmas to play with what they received.

After the excitement is over and the toys get old, some parents hear from their children the dreaded words “I’m bored.”  Our hearts sink.

This past Christmas, I was watching some of our smaller cousins while the adults were having their gift exchange. Our extended family plays a gift exchange where we are able to pick a gift that has already been opened and then the turn goes around where you can “steal” a gift someone has and once you have had it 3 times it is yours to keep.   One of the gifts was an empty paper towel roll that had money in it and we laughed that someone wanted an empty paper towel roll.

The little cousins quickly took hold of that paper towel roll and created an hour of fun.  They pretended it was a horn, a telescope, a musical instrument by tapping it on the ground, they made their arm disappear, and it was a golf club hitting a ball and they learned how to make an incline plane that their car could roll down and out.  All the adults smiled and enjoyed watching them using their imagination and one commented that it was the best toy given.

Watching my small cousins took me back to when I was growing up and when my mom would get a boxed package in the mail or a new appliance that came in a huge box.  All the children would want to  claim the box.  We would make it into a fort, a car or whatever our hearts desired.  My brother even made himself into a “box turtle” by cutting a hole in it and sticking his head out and carrying it on his back.  We would have hours of fun with our imagination.

Imaginary play is such important part of growing up.  It is a part of brain development and it gives the children the ability to have stories that they will be able to first talk about, then eventually write and then read.  For example, a child may be interested in space and planets and will create a pretend rocket and take a spacewalk on the moon.   He or she can write about the space walk in pictures or words and then they can share their book with their peers.

Imaginary play also allows the children to take risks. When he or she builds the space ship, they have to decide how it will look, where the door and windows will be. They will design what their rocket ship will look like.  Confident, positive risk takers are the children that can make decisions without always looking for approval from teachers and peers.

Imaginary play has many more developmental benefits such as allowing them to problem solve with their peers, and encourages role playing and language development.  It is even a part of a child’s gross and fine motor development.   So next time a box comes your way, remember “the sky is the limit” when it comes to the imagination of a child.

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