Pretend play is great for the imagination

We’ve been busy at home having indoor picnics, fighting crocodiles and dinosaurs, beating away the big bad wolf. Etc etc. (And more recently, or after watch Frozen to be exact, playing princess.)

Yes, the kids love to play pretend. I love to watch their dramatic eye-popping action and guffaw-inducing scripts, and I play along while trying my darnedest to fight back giggles.

Props like this picnic basket (featured below) from IKEA always help to start things going. So do puppets and costume props. Books are also great fodder for dramatisation. I remember one of the earliest times we did this was after we read We Are Going On A Bearhunt. For the longest time, the story captured the kids’ imagination and we always imagined the big bear was chasing after us, and of course they love the part where we all hide under the comforter most.

So here we are, having a picnic on our bed.

Kids are busy slurping ice-cream. Josh wears the look of “What’s going on” on his face.

Let's feed Josh

Ooh, let’s feed J some easter eggs. Yummy chocolate, baby J?

Let's shoot the bad guy

Oh no. The big bad wolf (A.K.A. papa) is coming to steal our yummy food! Quick, shoot him!

play_laugh

The poor wolf falls over while dodging JJ’s fireball. Kids fall over laughing.

Whew. Tired.

Whew…Pretend play is tiring. I give up…

pretending to be princess Elsa

I wanna be Elsa. (What’s new?)

What are the benefits of pretend play?

  • Helps children to explore their emotions and gives them a safe way to learn how to express / cope with difficult emotions like anger, jealousy, and aggression.
  • Encourages them to build bridges between different ideas and concepts, which is the foundation of creativity and symbolic/abstract thinking.
  • Helps children rehearse and prepare for upcoming real life events, such as moving house, or a visit to the dentist.
  • Helps them learn and develop social skills.

Pretend play gives you both permission to try on different emotions for size, and in doing so you’ll both gain confidence in experiencing and expressing a fuller range of human emotions. – Building Healthy Minds

How do we encourage pretend play?

  • I remember one of JJ’s first “pretend-playing” was when he was trying to cook me an egg. So real-life activities (cooking, shopping, a trip to the zoo, or an airplane ride) make great fodder for sparking a drama-activity.
  • Read books that inspire pretend play. Try Little Bear, Ladybug Girl Dresses Up, The Very Cranky Bear, or We Are Going On A Bearhunt.
  • Have lots of pretend-play items within their reach. Things like dressing up costumes (even an old handbag or hat), cooking / food items, and all sorts of puppets.

Mary-go-round dress on Vera, Fly Me To The Moon shirt on JJ, and The Bandit onesie on baby J have been sponsored by Baby Att. Inspired by the curiosity and imaginative powers of kids, Baby Att’s pieces have hand-sewn details that have become trigger points for story-telling sessions and quality interaction with our children.

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One lucky reader will walk away with a $50 Baby Att shopping voucher. Just enter via the rafflecopter app below.

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Contest is open to Singapore residents only, and closes on 21 May 2014, 11pm. Winners will be notified by email.

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We’re going on a bear hunt this weekend

We recently fell in love with We’re Going on a Bear-hunt. The Chinese version. We picked it up from the library one morning and it was Vera’s favourite bedtime book request for many nights after.

A couple of reads later, she could recite most parts of the book, mainly because the text reads with a lovely lyrical rhythm. The sounds of slushing through the river. The scary bear moment. And reversing the entire journey because they had to run away from the bear. It is one magnetic book; all the better that it’s in Chinese because we hardly have any favourite Chinese books.

It’s also fun because during one of our walks at the park, we started to pretend that we were going on a bear-hunt. Vera had delight dancing in her eyes while we were play-acting. What added to the moment was that dear daddy had JJ on his shoulders, exactly like the picture on the book cover.

The funny thing is though, we haven’t read the original English version. I’m not sure if our experience with the Chinese one would have been any different if we had, but I’m quite sure the writer who translated it did a good job. Here is an excerpt:

我们要去抓狗熊。

我们要抓一只大大的。

天气这么好,

没什么好怕的!

It’s really simple, yet there’s room for imagination. Or perhaps it’s the simplest books that allow space for imagination to bloom?

What is your favourite Chinese book for children? Please leave a comment to share as I would love to expand on our Chinese bookshelf.

Have a lovely weekend with your loved ones. Run where your imagination takes you. A trip to the library perhaps? 😉

we're going on a bearhunt

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