Play, Play…Play All Day
As adults, the word “play” is usually connected to something we do after the kids are raised and we are nestling into our Golden Years. “Play” is also something we look forward to doing after a long week of working hard all freaking week. When Adulting, “play” can be as simple as binge watching The Twilight Series or as extreme as skydiving .
For kids, the word “play” takes on a whole new meaning. Play is the thing that fills their day and consumes their attention. Playtime may seem like a carefree and basic part of life for our Littles, but in reality it is a critical piece of their growth and development.
Our wee ones truly need to have plenty of time during their busy weeks and months as infants, “crawlers” and toddlers to participate in unstructured play. Unstructured play is that magical time when they can pretend to be whatever they want, without input from us Big Humans. As tempting as it is for Helicopter Moms and Dads to feel the need to orchestrate every moment of play, sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is just let them be. Just let them play and just let them be little.
Play, Play…Play All Day | Why is it so important for us to step back and give our Littles some space?
Unstructured play is that a great place for little imaginations to run wild, that’s why. Our offspring are blessed with incredible imaginations and their abilities to create roles and scenarios during playtime would put most Hollywood producers to shame. Not that it’s not OK to play with our kids, but as parents we tend to muck it up sometimes by injecting our rational and realistic thinking on our young ones.
Who cares if semis really don’t jump imaginary canyons the length of a twin size bed or that, in real life, elephants don’t skip. #buzzkill
One thing parents can do to encourage growth and creativity during play is to provide tools or toys that guide young minds in a specific direction while also opening up little worlds to things, events, places and people beyond their front door. Toys that inspire play anything ImagineX or even LPS, but another very important play-cultivating “tool” is books.
Play, Play…Play All Day | Using Books to Inspire Imagination
“Books are treasures that can unlock new worlds for young readers; foreign worlds, imaginary worlds, historical worlds and future worlds,” shared children’s book publisher (and one of my Besties), Valarie Budayr. “When we open up these worlds via fun and imaginative book-related play and activities, we create building blocks for creative problem solving skills and the understanding that using our imaginations is a doorway to knowing that all things are possible.”
I’ve know Valarie for over five years and her passion for getting books into little hands, and pulling activities off of those pages, is mind-blowing. “Pulling books off of shelves and stories off of pages” has been her mantra for as long as I have known her. She knows that books feed children’s imaginations, inspire their creativity, gives them mirrors to see themselves while opening doors to new cultures, worlds, countries, traditions and religions.
Books ultimately will instill a lifelong love of reader in our kiddlets while also giving them the ability to be amazed and filled with wonderment. What’s not to love about THAT?!
Not only will spending a few minutes reading a pirate book to your child work to make them a stronger reader in coming years, the story itself will work to inspire little imaginations to go on imaginary adventure they may not have thought of. Even after the book has been closed, your children’s mind will be open, inspired and plotting new ways to act out pirate scenes with the laundry basket as their trusty ship!
“Book are the seeds of curiosity that inspire us to look further, to go and discover what’s out there, whether real or imaginative,” Valarie added. “Having books be an integral part of your children’s learning, play and imagination also helps them understand and be curious about other lives, countries and cultures.”
How can parents get in on the action and take book-inspired play to a new level? Look for opportunities to pull books from shelves and stories from pages. Look for events, special items or unique facts within the pages of the book you are reading and expand upon it. Remember the pirate story? Use that newfound wonder and curiosity to encourage your child to want to know more about the life of a pirate, what they ate and even how they talked. Use this newly created interest act out your own pirate tale as a family, or step back and let the littlest Caption of the Ship indulge in his own imaginary missions.
So what are the books in your home that could opened up and be used to encourage healthy play with your child?
Here are some of my personal favorites when it comes to creating activities and imagination inspiring moments from books.