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Five simple ideas to spark your children’s imaginations.

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There’s nothing more rewarding for a parent than watching their child at play, lost in the moment, deep in thought, discovering and having fun.

Experts have praised the benefits of play for children for years now as not only being good for building confidence, but for also helping children to feel secure and loved, as well as developing communication and physical skills.

Often it’s when the game consoles are finally turned off and our attention is not being pulled in multiple directions, that the magic ingredient for imaginative play with our children appears: it’s us. Our time and attention. Children thrive on learning from us, and learning with us. As little as 15 minutes a day of your undivided attention can make a huge difference in your child’s world, and help to them to thrive.

Here are five simple ideas to spark imagination in your children, and go an adventure of the mind, no matter where you are.

1. Discover the hidden history of your city.

With a little bit of digging online, you can often find free or affordable walking tours that reveal the history, hidden secrets or fascinating precincts of your city. They’re a great way to fill in an afternoon that combines exercise and exploration for the whole family, and you’ll be surprised at what you will uncover.

imaginative play
“With a little bit of digging online, you can often find free or affordable walking tours that reveal the history, hidden secrets or fascinating precincts of your city.” Image via iStock.

2. Using Google Earth.

Why not use Google Earth to go on virtual tour of the world’s most famous sites? With the quality of imagery improving all the time, you can take your kids on a tour of iconic destinations like the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, the White House, Ayres Rock and the Eiffel Tower – all from the comfort of your couch. Better still, let them steer and get creative while showing you their digital and navigational prowess.

3. Quiz master.

In our household, being a little bit competitive just means you’re part of the family. A great way to involve kids in a bit of healthy competition is to let them be the Quiz Master for a family quiz – and it’s perfect for confidence building.

The papers have daily and weekly quizzes, there are also apps and online, and by appointing kids the master of ceremonies, not only are they learning, they get to keep score and enjoy seeing their parents sweat a little with each question. Stop and wait for their voice to grow deeper and more assertive as they begin to take control of the fun.

imaginative play
“A great way to involve kids in a bit of healthy competition is to let them be the Quiz Master for a family quiz.” Image via iStock.
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4. Who am I – with a twist.

The old “twenty questions” game is always a winner, but you can freshen it up by adding a dimension such as animals, countries or foods. The questions asked still have to generate a yes or no answer, and you have to be able to guess within twenty questions.

Once you’ve finished, take the time to explain the facts. For example, if the kids have guessed ‘Apatosaurus’ explain the meaning behind the name – it’s ‘thunder lizard’ in case you didn’t know. Or if they’ve guessed ‘croissant,’ why not save some time for storytelling? Perhaps, explain that Marie Antoinette is rumoured to have brought the croissant to France from Austria.

These games don’t have to be reserved for the car – they can be played any time to liven up an afternoon and get your kids problem solving and having fun.

5. The game of cricket, in your car.

In our family, we have a few tried and tested games for long car trips. There is, of course Eye Spy, but then there’s the more advanced “Cricket”.

Cricket is best for wide-open country roads with minimal traffic. You nominate red cars as “out” and allocate points for regular cars (1), larger vehicles – vans and SUVs – (4), and trucks and anything bigger (6). Then you play. As soon as you spot a red car, you’re out. (“Howzaaaat!”) It’s fun for everyone and because it’s all luck, it’s pretty harmless fun.

imaginative play
“In our family, we have a few tried and tested games for long car trips. There is of course Eye Spy, but then there’s the more advanced “Cricket”.” Image via iStock.

So next time you’re in a rut, thinking of things to do with your kids, go back to basics, and give them some simple ideas that stimulate their minds and get them thinking and learning – as well as having fun.

How do you spark your kids’ imaginations?

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