Fantasy play may seem like fun, but did you know kiddo is actually learning?
Ta-da! Minki is waving her wand at Luca (our ever patient Alsatian that looks a little bit like a lion but with the heart of a lamb), trying to turn him into a unicorn.
No luck. Luca is staring at this strange creature covered in pink, waving her wand at him, definitely not changing into a unicorn anytime soon. Minki flies away, looking for her next unsuspecting victim…
Introducing Minki the Rainbow Fairy sponsored by Claire’s South Africa.
And in a supporting role: Luca the Loving Alsation. Still looking for sponsors… 😉
Besides looking all cute and fairy like, fantasy play actually has a lot of benefits for your little one.
Find your inner child, some cute accessories and enjoy pretend play with your toddler, it’s a great, fun way to learn!
4 Benefits of Imaginative Play:
1. Social development
Kiddo learns to interact with others. They get to play different roles and experience unique situations.
2. Language development
By pretend playing with others (imaginative others count too), kiddo can freely talk, without embarrassment, even if they use words incorrectly. Fairies don’t judge!
3. Emotional development
Pretend play allows kiddo to express emotions. Positive and negative. It’s a great way to work through some sensitive situations.
4. Physical development
Kiddo use all their muscles and senses through imaginative play. They express themselves verbally and non-verbally. For example: Minki is running around (gross motor skills), holding her wand (fine motor skills), talking to Luca (social skills and language). See what I did there? 😉
In Vivian Gussin Paley’s book, A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, she cites the work of Sara Smilansky. She found that children who lacked the skills necessary for fantasy play also struggled in other areas of classroom learning. High quality play, she found, could be taught by children, to children, and appeared to be the “necessary precursor for every other kind of learning in a classroom.”
Let me translate: Learn to play, learn to learn.
Next time kiddo is running around the house with your (brand new) sheets fluttering behind her (because duh she’s Superwoman), let it go. Even better grab a sheet and play along, because “the act of acting strengthens the executive functions of the brain.”
3 Ways to encourage fantasy play:
1. Supply the props
This can be as simple as a rain meter becoming a dwarfs hat, or a pretty tutu from Claire’s = Minki The Rainbow Fairy. Open-ended toys are great because toddlers have no shortage of imagination!
2. Take a supporting role
Let your toddler lead the way. Take a backseat and stop hovering Mama! But if your toddler are looking for an accomplice, join in the fun!
3. You go girl!
Be a cheerleader! If your little girl is offering you some tea, you drink that tea and pretend that it’s delicious!
Go on now, the world is your stage!
Helene (& Minki a.k.a the Rainbow Fairy)