Use Your Imagination When Encouraging Imaginative Play!
Sometimes we can overlook the obvious – at least that is definitely true for me sometimes. For the longest time I have struggled with – and wondered why my children never play with their dolls. I know, it is a strange thing to worry about, but as a child I have fond memories of playing with dolls and taking care of them. I wondered what I was doing wrong.
My girls had little stuffed animals and they just sat there in a basket, hardly used. From time to time my youngest would walk around with them for a while – pushing them in a stroller – but her interest in this type of play quickly faded.
Ever have one of those “ah-ha” moments when it all comes to light? That’s what happened to me recently. In preparing for the new baby we had to get rid of all of our old baby clothes. Yes, my children used each other’s hand-me-downs so we have kept them in boxes. As I was sorting through the clothes to send for donation, my children started begging to keep some of the smallest clothes for their dolls. I didn’t think much of it – but most of the clothes have already been used three times now (and were originally purchased at a resale shop anyway). Most of them were still in good condition, but I figured if it will help them play with their dolls, let them have some!
I cannot believe the affect providing something as small as doll clothes can have on the imagination! Now, when I was younger – I played with those small plastic molded dolls but I personally hate what they represent and refuse to let my kiddos play with them. I also prefer to lean towards using dolls that don’t have faces or have simple sewn faces instead of those that look anything near realistic. So, I totally forgot the joy I had as a child dressing those dolls because so many clothes came with them. The dolls my kiddos have are different shapes and sizes – and there aren’t many (if any) that have clothes sold for them. However, surprisingly, the baby clothes fit most of their dolls.
I am not kidding when I say that they now dress their dolls for the day in the morning and before bed they dress them again. My youngest even puts clothes on the other “babies” while having conversations with them – all while we are doing schoolwork. Now, you would think that this type of play – like other things – would have its limit – but it has not. It has been over two months now that I have given them the clothes and they still are excited to dress and take care of their babies, masha’Allah.
So, if you are anything like me – and you overlook the obvious – if your child is not playing with their dolls much – give them some clothes for the baby. I just wish I had thought of this idea a long time ago! This summer I am thinking of having sewing classes for the kids – and they immediately thought of things like making a sling and a blanket for their babies. They are extremely excited now – and I get to encourage them to learn another skill!
Now – it is not only things like clothes for dolls that inspire the imagination. I am sure there is more that I can come up with – given a little time to think and create insha’Allah. One thing I am also working on – for when the baby arrives – is some things I can do with the kids to keep them busy. They have a pretend kitchen that they play with – but they have recently lost interest in it. So, I am currently working on printing off a menu and signs for their “restaurant” so they can actually pretend to serve customers. I am hoping that this will encourage more imaginative play this way. We also have a pretend cash register – and I am hoping that along with the menu – we will post prices so the kiddos can also practice paying for – and receiving change for anything they “buy”.
I’m sure the possibilities are endless – but just thought I’d send a little reminder to use your imagination when inspiring your child to engage in imaginative play. Sometimes it is the small things that can make a big difference!
Sumayyah Umm SAA