“How did you use your imagination today?”
Instead of the typical, “How was your day at school today?” I’ve been searching for ways to get a meatier response from my 4th grader rather than the typical, “good…”. On the other hand, my chatter box PreK-er is not at a loss for words when it comes to letting me know all the fun activities that took place in school for him. So, when we’re at home for two weeks at a time during winter break or after school during those hours between 3 and 7 it’s important for me to provide them with ways they can build their brain power and let them boost their imagination.
I compiled a short and sweet little list of imagination boosting activities (non-age specific) that are super simple to do at home, don’t involve technology and require very little help from me.
1. Go OUTSIDE!
This is Texas and although we are suppose to have four seasons, let’s face it, winter feels like fall and summer well….there will be a separate blog post about how to manage the heat and stay indoors at a later date. But, for now- weather permitting- GO OUTSIDE! There is so much to do even in you own back or front yard. Suddenly I have collectors when we go outside. Roman, my 9-year-old, has always loved collecting rocks. He’s passed this love onto his brother, Christian. They have also enjoyed sorting twigs and leaves. That makes this momma bear heart happy. Perhaps, if I play my cards well, I can use this to my advantage when getting them to pick up after themselves: sort your toys and put them away (I can dream can’t I?!). When we go on nature walks a good way to engage in imagination boosting is also by discovering shapes in the clouds.
2. Puppet Theatre
Our local library has a great little puppet theatre. Kids at any age can benefit from imaginative play of this kind. For this reason I love using intonation in my voice when I read aloud to them. A super simple way to do this at home is by using paper sack puppets, popsicle sticks puppets and even just their toys or stuffed animals. I sit back and their imagination take them on an adventure when they become those characters.
3. Kitchen Fun
We spend about 80% of our time at home in the kitchen. But our kitchen isn’t used for cooking, baking and eating- we have all kinds of fun here too! It’s so much easier for me to clean up any spill or mess here versus their rooms. Painting is always fun and one of my favorite ways to have my boys express creativity. But when I discovered painting sans mess I was hooked. Get a few ziplock bags, squirt one, two or three colors in each baggie and voila- let your imagination run WILD! They really enjoy this, but I think I enjoy it more. (This has also been a great way to introduce mixing and making colors to my younger littles.)
4. Cardboard Stuff
On a recent substitute teaching assignment I found out about the cardboard challenge and Caine’s Arcade who inspired this movement. The class I was assigned to was using all kinds of cardboard boxes, scraps, ping pong balls, duck tape, masking tape, etc. to create anything- the possibilities were endless. As a kid, this was a favorite past time of mine- just getting stuff from around the house to create anything. When I got home that day, I started collecting items from our recycle bin to have my boys start creating anything. They soared! Roman made a marble maze using duck tape and scraps of cardboard, Christian made a ball toss game using a popsicle stick, egg cartoon and wadded up paper. Aaron (1-yr-old) grabbed any and every paper towel roll he could find to throw! This has been, by far, my favorite way to boost my boys imagination. There are no rules, just create something.
Perhaps the simplest habit to instill in my boys is that of reading. Not enough can be said about just letting your imagination run wild in a book. When I read aloud to them, my favorite part is my intonation with each character. They seem to love this too.