Imagination for Kids: Why It's Important
When adults see a cardboard box, we see, well, a cardboard box. But when kids see a cardboard box, it might be a car, playhouse, or rocket ship to the moon — the possibilities of that box are endless!
It’s said that kids have quite the imaginations, but are there any benefits to a big imagination besides having fun? Read on to learn all about the amazing imaginations of kids, why they’re essential, and how you can foster them.
What Is Imagination?
Often, when we think about imagination, thoughts of dragons, princesses in far-off castles, or traveling to a moon made of cheese fill our heads. While this type of story creation is imagination at work, more grounded, pretend play can also be imagination. If your child loves playing restaurant or playing pretend with trucks or dolls, they're also using their imagination.
Imagination is the ability to form new concepts, ideas, or mental images, without them being a part of the reality in front of you. Imagination can also be finding a unique solution to a complicated problem. As kids, we practice using our imaginations in often fantastical ways. As we get older, those skills that we built as children can be very helpful in the critical thinking arena.
Why Is Imagination Important for Kids?
Kids’ imaginations allow them to experience situations through play that they may one day encounter in the real world. It prompts them to conjure creative ways to solve problems, practice social skills, and build self-esteem.
Many aspects of child development may be directly related to imagination. Providing opportunities during early childhood to build on imaginative thinking will help support future success as children mature through school and life experience.
Develop Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills
When kids play make-believe, they often pretend to be something or someone else. Wild little ones may be balancing on a pirate ship's plank or running and jumping like a superhero trying to save an innocent bystander. Or, perhaps they’re surfing chair to chair because the floor is made of lava.
Children’s imaginations can also come out through playing with Legos or playdough or creating art. They may also love playing pretend-cooking in the kitchen or dressing dolls in different clothes.
All these activities allow young children to practice coordination and fine motor skills — or the ability to precisely move the smaller muscles in the hands, like those needed to hold a pencil. Coordination, especially hand-eye coordination, helps young athletes excel on the baseball field or execute a flawless back handspring in the gymnasium.
Enhance Problem Solving
Kids encounter problems every day. These problems can be big or small, but with imagination and creativity, nearly everything is possible. When children practice using imagination, they gain the ability to look at information in new and unique ways.
Kids also run into silly problems when playing! Make-believe worlds are subject to all kinds of trouble: mischievous dragons, rogue secret agents, and missing treasure can emerge at any moment. When problem-solving during creative play, problem-solving skills for the real world are born, tested, and perfected.
If you're playing too, you can throw in some unexpected problems in the make-believe world and see how your little one handles the challenge on the fly.
Teach Social Skills
When kids play with other kids or the grownups in their lives, they learn to perfect critical social skills. Even in worlds fueled by magic, they'll need to work together as a team to find solutions when differing imaginative opinions and rules pop up.
When kids role-play, they put themselves in someone else's shoes, experiencing what it's like to face other people’s advantages and challenges. In this way, role play teaches compassion and healthy communication tactics.
Imagination allows kids to pretend to be anything they want to be. When masquerading as teachers, doctors, cowboys, or even princesses, they become more confident and self-assured. A metaphorical (or literal) mask provides a comfortable space to practice positive role-modeling and self-talk. When living as another, even for a brief moment, children can exercise far more control than is typical in a young person’s world.
By reinforcing that positive self-talk, children can continue to build self-confidence as they age. If your child is playing dress-up and they come out in a wild outfit that they're so proud of, reinforce how creative this look is. If they invite you into their imaginary world and want to make you dinner, comment on how delicious it is. These comments can go a long way to helping their confidence grow.
Children’s minds are so, so powerful… and at the same time, growing minds don’t quite have the attention span of adults and often need support and encouragement to stick with a task. But, encouraging a budding imagination can take time and focus that parents don’t always have to give.
Luckily, today’s families have Kinoo and the Kinoo Connect app. With Kinoo, you can connect your (little) big thinker with a favorite relative over a Kinoo video call for collaborative virtual playtime.
On your next Kinoo call, your kiddo and long-distance loved ones can chat, play games, and even whip up amazing recipes virtually. Play restaurant over the Kinoo app and praise your tiny chef for the fabulous pizza or cake you make together: You simply couldn’t have done it without them.
How Can You Spark Your Child's Imagination?
Left to their own devices, kids typically dream up some sort of imaginative play in no time. Without internal noise, self-doubt, and more advanced knowledge of the world, children are free to imagine things that many adults can’t.
If you're looking for ways to give your child’s imagination a tiny spark, we have a few ideas that may help. But don't forget; you have permission to get in on the fun also. Showing kids that adults can play too may give them the permission they need to keep playing, no matter what age they are. It’s the idea of growing older, not up.
Imaginative play is often not something that adults participate in freely. With the responsibilities that come with being a grownup, fun often takes a back seat.
While playing with your kids is always encouraged, we don't always have to play with our kids, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s really good for them to have independent playtime. When you can take some time to join your little one in imaginative play, however, you’ll both get amazing benefits.
When adults play with children, they can add another layer to pretend play. You may ask questions they hadn’t thought of, take fort building to a new level, or even introduce a game you played as a kid that is new to them.
Or, if you can’t find the time when your child is looking for a playmate, you can use Kinoo to connect your child to a trusted loved one, no matter how far away you are. You can invite anyone in your family or friend circle to join your child in a Kinoo Video Call to bridge the distance. By engaging in an interactive activity, you can both use your imagination and build lasting memories.
You can play at the beach, fly to the moon, and go fishing — all virtually!
If imaginary play isn’t your speed, how about building imagination by sharing a storybook? Reading to your little one has so many benefits, including strengthening imagination. Pull out the fairy tales, books with talking dinosaurs or trucks, or any of the many books your kid loves. Books have a magical way of transporting readers across time and distance through imagination.
Read all different types of books — either out loud or quietly, either in person or, with the help of Kinoo, over a video call, you can enjoy stories with detailed pictures or books with no pictures at all. There are also books with no words, where you and your child, or your child and a distant loved one can create the story based on the pictures on the page.
Tell Stories Together
If your books aren’t handy, you can create your own stories together. Storytelling builds creative thinking skills that assist children in language arts and language arts classes. Take turns coming up with your own story or create a tale together.
If you're both struggling for inspiration, open a Kinoo call and play Beach Playset. Work together to make up fun scenes on the beach. Then, tell a story about what different characters are doing and why!
Create Art Together
Art goes hand in hand with imagination and creativity. Break out the crayons, markers, and paintbrushes, put those smocks on, and go! Imagination through art can be so engaging. If you can’t sit and create art side-by-side, creating can be an awesome activity for the little one to do while you're in the kitchen cooking or doing dishes. This way, you can get things done but also be right there to jump in as needed.
If you aren’t up for the mess, try out drawing on the Kinoo app. You and your artist can create a virtual masterpiece together while spending time with grandparents, cousins, and other loved ones chatting, imagining, and creating one-of-a-kind art.
Encourage Unstructured Play
One of the best things for kids is unstructured playtime. The key is to remain open-minded — and allow boys and girls to play with a variety of objects and toys, not just the ones associated with stereotypes or traditions.
Open-ended toys — or toys that can be used in many different ways — are also an awesome tool for unstructured play.
One example would be a set of blocks. Blocks can form a tower, a road for a toy car, or even mimic a cell phone. The best toy chest is the one that is the most versatile, not necessarily the fullest.
Nature is full of inspiration. Playing outside is a great way to charge up imaginations. You can go to the park, a nature reserve, or just hang out in the backyard. Kids have an amazing ability to create a world out of nature that we can’t see.
One way to encourage imagination is by finding shapes in the clouds. Lie in the grass or just look up and pay attention to the clouds floating by. Call out the different images you see and point them out to your child to see if they can see them too or if they see something entirely different.
Allow Kids To Problem Solve
One way to boost childhood imagination and creativity is to allow them to solve problems. When children use imagination to solve problems, self-confidence levels rise.
As parents or caregivers, it’s easy to step in and help our kids; that’s our job, after all. However, when we take a step back, that’s often even more beneficial.
When kids can slow down and solve a problem on their own, they're not just solving this immediate problem but paving a path to solving future problems. When kids are able to successfully solve small problems, they are also building a creative ability to solve larger problems as they grow.
Playing With Household Objects
Sometimes, the best toys are plain objects around the house. Paper towel rolls, pots and pans, sticks, pillows, and blankets can all offer endless fun. Playing with traditionally non-toy items teaches practical life skills.
Like open-ended toys made specifically to encourage multiple uses, household items have the same incredible powers. Blankets can be flying carpets or fort walls. Pillows can be stepping stones in a river or a landing zone for an airplane.
So, where’s the lesson?
Imagining the challenges pilots or explorers face is one kind of skill-building, but additionally, when your creative kid finishes playing with the pots and pans, they can help you wash them for the next food use. Blankets can be folded neatly and put back into the closet, teaching organizational skills and respect for our homes.
The Building Blocks of Imagination
Imagination is vital — the building blocks of nearly everything growing people need, teaching life skills through active play. There are so many ways you can spark your child’s imagination. The more they play, the more their imagination will grow.
Enjoy the time playing together and watching your little one's imagination take off!
Kinoo provides your child with a fun and engaging way to connect with the ones they love through imaginative and collaborative activities and games. When you need some inspirational resources, you can always call on Kinoo.