Picnic Table Talk: Imagination

There’s a great Picnic Table Talk this week about Your Child’s Imagination over at ABC’s and 123’s Learning Cooperative.

Aside from all the “educational” type activities we do over here, promoting my children’s imaginations has been very important to me. I wrote a post last year discussing Make Believe Play to Help Self-Regulation with links to wonderful articles you should check out. It really does build some critical skills.

I wrote a post about Props for Pretend Play for ideas on playing restaurant, library, store and post office with some free printables.

I’ve made a lot of their toys and focused on trying to make more open-ended, natural and imaginative toys and if I purchased toys, it was with the intention of fostering imagination.

For instance, I made playmats out of felt and fabric to go with their playmobil pirates and fairies and made gnomes and a gnome home and painted wooden trees and animals I bought at a craft fair. Now their dolls can act out a lot of different scenarios based on what playmat they are playing on.

Forest playmat:


Ryan’s Room Fairie Forest (bought on clearance for 75% off) with a farm playmat:

Ocean playmat with felt moveable treasure island and handmade wooden dock:

I improvised a play kitchen out of wooden furniture after going through two very cheap toy kitchens.

I also kept my eyes out for interesting fabrics at the fabric store and saved my accessories from weddings I’ve been in for dress up. My children spent 3 days after watching Harry Potter dressing up as HP characters and running around casting spells with brown wooden chopsticks as wands. My oldest went so far as to draw a scar out of paper and tape it to her forehead:

Harry’s scar:


Shimmery fabric with moons and stars they used as an invisibility cloak:


A green satin wrap used as McGonagal’s green cloak and chopstick wand.


My middle daughter told the story of Little Red Riding Hood using things collected from Nature.

We also get a lot of use out of our backyard wooden swingset. Often the kids pretend the tower is a ship (it has a steering wheel) or they’d be climbing up a huge mountain on the rock wall. Sometimes they’d get out the garden hose and play fireman.


And when the kids were younger, they used a empty sand box as a space ship and my oldest daughter and I would act out stories from the Backyardigans in the backyard.

Yes, indeed…we love using our imaginations over here.

This entry was posted in ABC and 123's Picnic, Natural playthings, pretend play, the importance of play. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Picnic Table Talk: Imagination

  1. Ticia says:

    I love your Playmobil felt sets. What a great idea and what a wonderful find to get the fairy forest on clearance.

  2. Keri says:

    lots of fun pretend play toys! your felt play mats are adorable! i also love the pic of the fruit kabob on your blog header- we just ate some for our letter K day- boy they were scrumptious! esp with a bit of chocolate!

  3. growinginpeace says:

    Thanks Ticia-

    The fairy forest was a steal! $20 instead of $110. It was an awesome find.

  4. growinginpeace says:

    Keri – oh, yeah, I can’t tell who has more fun – me or the kids sometimes. I love pretend play and I worked hard at converting most of our plastics into wood or fabric (with the exception of course of the Playmobils and legos).

  5. Eva says:

    I am in love with your felt playmats, so creative 🙂 I really want to try making one– one of these days!

  6. Jenny says:

    How fun! I love the fairy forest set!

  7. Susana says:

    This is a super post with so many great ideas. Thank you so much for sharing this!! You are so crafty and creative yourself–your children have a great example to look to!

  8. growinginpeace says:

    Susana – thank you so much for the kind words. If I’m creative it’s mostly because I was bored and I got ideas from around the internet. 🙂

    I am trying to teach them to embroider and sew, so maybe they will learn a thing or two.

  9. Natalie says:

    Your invisibility cloak is pretty neat. Looks almost like a real thing 🙂 I am sure that your girls have very active imaginations and have so many opportunities and props to help them live in their fantasy lands.

  10. growinginpeace says:

    Thanks Natalie-

    My childhood was filled with many unhappy memories. My mom divorced my dad when I was 2 and she remarried when I was 5. The home I grew up in was filled with fighting – verbal and sometimes physical abuse, not just by my parents, but my oldest sister also abused me a lot – from the time I was little until the time I moved out of the house for good at 24. I was a very sensitive child and I would have loved to have had a different experience than the one I had.

    They are lucky to have a mom whose “inner child” wasn’t completely destroyed by the family I lived with, even though I was greatly damaged. I spent a lot of time transforming into the mother I am today. I can honestly say I never wanted to be a mother until I became one. I was seriously convinced children just wrecked a woman’s life and I wasn’t planning on having any because of that.

    But…what helped to change that outlook is by embracing the wonder and imagination of childhood again. And through learning about healthy mothering through http://www.mothering.com and

    I learned how to be a playful parent and learned about natural toys there and was inspired by some very creative moms to want that for my kids.

    As far as props and things and toys go…I’m very selective as to what they have. I’d rather try and make props out of something we have, than to go buy a toy to serve the same purpose. They were also lucky because we have a large extended family. But, I have had to ask my family members to limit what they buy for the kids. They were getting so much stuff that it was overwhelming for all of us.

    After a certain point, I had enough. I was starting to get anxiety attacks about the amount of toys and sheer stuff they had. It was weighing heavily on my heart and mind. We had so much plastic toys (gifts from well-meaning family) that it was really guilt-inducing for me.

    So…slowly but surely, I weeded out most of the plastic toys. I converted over to wood and fabric toys, most of the wood toys I bought unfinished and painted myself, and a lot of the fabric toys I made too.

    Yes, basically, for me, playing and giving them opportunities and props is one of the things I value highly. There’s enough time for the girls to learn about the harsh realities of the world (while we watch tv, we don’t even watch the news in front of the girls – we get our news from the internet). In the meantime, I want to do everything I can to create as much imagination and fantasy as possible.

  11. Jedda says:

    We’ve been creating a “village” and I love how the kids use the pieces to re-create their life or imagine up something new. It’s fun to get some new ideas! Here’s the newest part of our village:

  12. growinginpeace says:

    Jedda – I actually saw that post recently. Unfortunately I had a problem with commenting on it – it wouldn’t let me for some reason.

    I was going to tell you that looked great, but of course, the computer wouldn’t let me for some reason!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s