How To Encourage Imaginative Play

Playing with toys that encourage imagination and pretend play, is not only fun for kids but it can also be a means for their growth and development. When your child acts out a scene between their dolls, they are exploring the possibilities of behavior. The are realizing that imagination and creativity are good things. They are learning to be free in their own minds. Imaginative play helps children explore possibilities.

“In the world of child development you may hear us use phrases like ‘critical thinking skills’ and ‘creative problem-solving abilities’ when referring to our goals for your child’s cognitive development. What we are really talking about is… imagination”. –

Encouraging Imaginative Play

If you want to encourage imaginative play in your child, it is often as simple as allowing them to imagine things instead of accidentally belittling their imagination. If your child is engaged in flying their airplane around the room, and you ask them why they are being silly, they learn that type of imaginative behavior isn’t valued. Other examples of imaginative play may include using a cardboard box as a race car or having a pretend tea party. This type of fantasy play should be encouraged.

Perhaps, the very best way to encourage imaginative play for toddlers, is to engage in it with them. Set your adult worries aside and embrace your imagination. It doesn’t have to be complex. When my kids were little and they were having bath time, I once used my fingers as puppets because there were no bath toys. That tradition took root and we all have our very own finger puppets, each with their own name and personality. We role play conversations and events and have fun being silly. They know anything they can dream up is interesting to me. They know pretend play can be silly and fun and that it has a special place. The values of such imaginative play are many.

Benefits of Imaginative Play

Physical play has always been an important part of a child’s development. They need active play to develop their bodies. In the same way, children’s pretend play helps them to develop their minds. It is through play that their imaginations can be expressed in a vivid manner. A playful manipulation of ideas can actually develop their senses, way of thinking, and values. It gives children a chance to try out different roles that they may have in the future.

This type of play can also help them develop their social skills and language development. Creative play allows them to practice social interactions and when they do so with others they can see the results of their social behavior in a safe setting. In this way, they begin to learn self-regulation skills. If you observe a child engaged in imaginative play, you may get a clue to the things they are thinking about and insight into any positive or negative feelings they may be processing.

Many toys today are made in such a way that they help enhance children’s development. Toys that encourage imagination may not only help a child’s social development and cognitive skills but they also enhance his language skills as well. Very good examples of educational toys that encourage imagination can be found below.

Imaginative play is extra important for preschool age children as well as early school-agers. In Scientific American, Jerome L. Singer and Dorothy G. Singer state that, “Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven.” 

Imaginative Play Toys

Here are five good choices of toys that encourage imagination but there are many, many more options.  Think of leaving out the toys that need batteries to encourage pretend play.

Kids Play Kitchen

Young children love to participate in various activities. They often would ask what you’re doing in the kitchen and much as possible try to do it themselves. Kids play kitchen are just the right toys that encourage imagination in children. Play kitchens will teach them basic household chores and responsibilities like washing the dishes, and even develop their interest in cooking or baking. Some of these play kitchens already comes with a counter, a grill or burner, an oven, ice maker, a few cupboards, cabinets, towel racks, refrigerator, storage spaces, and a sink just like a real kitchen would look like. Others also include some toy kitchen utensils like plates, cups, spoons and forks, knives, pans, and with toy foods like fruits, vegetables, and meat.

Pretend Play With Dolls

Dolls are a very popular toys that encourage imagination as well as the dollhouses that come with dolls. Children often like to mimic what their mothers or older women do in taking care of babies. Dolls, mini-dolls and dollhouses are also excellent ways in teaching children close family ties and taking care of members in the family or society. This type of make-believe play is great for testing out different scenarios and developing emotional intelligence.

Workshop Play Set

The best way to enhance your child’s motor skills and interest in arts is by exposing them to various handcrafting activities. The workshop play set is just the perfect toy to encourage imagination and enhance their different abilities. This set will definitely develop their imagination to create new things and understand how things work. Most workshop play set already includes a table, a bench, and some materials and safe tools for building.

Medical Play Set

For kids, pretending to be a doctor would be fun especially when playing with friends or even with dolls. A medical play set can include a doctor costume and a handbag where all medical accessories are placed like a toy stethoscope or thermometer. These are toys that encourage imagination and teach kids about teamwork and leadership.

Open Ended Building Blocks

Another of the great imaginative play toys are building blocks. From wooden building blocks for younger children to Legos (without the instruction booklets) for older children, they can be great for open-ended play. Some of the benefits of imaginative play of this type are that they learn principles they can apply in real life. They learn that sometimes things fall, and that sometimes we have to try again and again to get things the way we imagine them. They also learn that building things takes time and focus. Play time is full of life lessons! Blocks are a great way for kids to test different ideas and learn how things work.


Don’t underestimate the power of good toys that encourage imagination in developing the minds and skills of your children. Their toys may be an initial step to what they will become in the future. Their early childhood games may allow them to become creative individuals which typically make great problem-solvers.

I hope you found this interesting and were convinced of the important benefit of early pretend play. Kids can use anything for imaginative play from open-ended toys to imaginary play friends. The imaginary world is calling! What are your favorite toys that encourage imagination?

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Source: Parenting -


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