Imaginative Play : What Kids Think of On Their Own

The Great Outdoors

This is my son Jason when he was still our foster child. He loved the tree in our front yard and spent a lot of time there.
This is my son Jason when he was still our foster child. He loved the tree in our front yard and spent a lot of time there. | Source

Playing with What's at Hand

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You can see how attached Jason is to Nosey.He is also very fond of Snakey. I wish I had a video of how he used to play with him. Besides Nosey and Mickey, Jason has also requisitioned the autograph hound my dorm mates from UCLA had given me one birthday when I was still in college.As you can see Nosey is almost always present. Both children were constantly vying for attention. Sarah loved being really physical.  Both children wanted piggy back rides from Kosta.I'm not quite sure why Jason decided he needed this box on his head.Jason is finding a new use for sofa pillows. Why? Because they are there. It almost might be stalling before bed. I'm not sure what possessed Sarah to don this disguise. I'm sure I probably had to read these two a story before bed to calm them down. Sarah puts homemade hat on Kosta as Jason looks on critically.
You can see how attached Jason is to Nosey.
You can see how attached Jason is to Nosey. | Source
He is also very fond of Snakey. I wish I had a video of how he used to play with him.
He is also very fond of Snakey. I wish I had a video of how he used to play with him. | Source
Besides Nosey and Mickey, Jason has also requisitioned the autograph hound my dorm mates from UCLA had given me one birthday when I was still in college.
Besides Nosey and Mickey, Jason has also requisitioned the autograph hound my dorm mates from UCLA had given me one birthday when I was still in college. | Source
As you can see Nosey is almost always present. Both children were constantly vying for attention. Sarah loved being really physical.
As you can see Nosey is almost always present. Both children were constantly vying for attention. Sarah loved being really physical. | Source
Both children wanted piggy back rides from Kosta.
Both children wanted piggy back rides from Kosta. | Source
I'm not quite sure why Jason decided he needed this box on his head.
I'm not quite sure why Jason decided he needed this box on his head. | Source
Jason is finding a new use for sofa pillows. Why? Because they are there. It almost might be stalling before bed.
Jason is finding a new use for sofa pillows. Why? Because they are there. It almost might be stalling before bed. | Source
I'm not sure what possessed Sarah to don this disguise. I'm sure I probably had to read these two a story before bed to calm them down.
I'm not sure what possessed Sarah to don this disguise. I'm sure I probably had to read these two a story before bed to calm them down. | Source
Sarah puts homemade hat on Kosta as Jason looks on critically.
Sarah puts homemade hat on Kosta as Jason looks on critically. | Source

Children Are Very Creative

Play for a creative child begins in his mind. Jason in the tree, above, looks almost asleep, but he's really thinking up what he will do next. That tree was like a second home when he first came to us at the age of five. He'd been playing in it even before he lived with us, because he'd started out in a foster home next door, and that's how I met him. Here's where you can read the story of how we met and became a family.

When the children arrived, Jason had known us for almost a year. We had only met his sister once or twice before the children moved in. Sarah was nine and emotionally and academically very behind. She had had some other scary experiences, like cowering in fear while a boyfriend attacked her young mother in the next room. Jason seemed to have been mostly neglected, and looked at Sarah as his protector. He had missed her while they'd been in separate foster homes.

Both children had great imaginations. They were learning to relate to each other again and to us, and in those early years this required a lot of play -- with each other and with us. Jason adored his bear, Nosey, which my mother had knit for him. He also had a lot of fun with Snakey, a plush snake we'd picked up at a garage sale when he was about seven. Both children acquired some Disney items when we took them to Disneyland about three years after they came. Both children made good use of any props they could find as they played with us. I wish I had had a video camera back then to catch Jason playing with his hot wheel cars and his trucks. Both children loved toys that stimulated their imaginations and gave them the props to reenact family trips or books we were reading aloud.

You will notice in these pictures that Kosta bore the brunt of most of this play. The children, especially Sarah, loved making him look silly, and he played right along with them as he adjusted to being a daddy. In this section you will look in on some of this spontaneous play.

Children Don't Need Much to Have Fun

Even a simple thing like bubble gum can amuse a child. This was taken on the Durango-Silverton Railroad ride during a Colorado vacation
Even a simple thing like bubble gum can amuse a child. This was taken on the Durango-Silverton Railroad ride during a Colorado vacation | Source

Using Props in Play

Both our children were very creative in using props during imaginative play, but especially Sarah. She liked dressing other people up to look silly. I'm not sure what game the kids were playing with Kosta when these pictures were taken, or whether the idea came from something we had read or from pure imagination. I do know that they were really into this drama they appeared to be acting out in the pictures below.

Props in Play

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The Minstrel and His Lady

Jason plays a recorder as Sarah plays the coquette.
Jason plays a recorder as Sarah plays the coquette. | Source

More Props

Both children loved music and Sarah became very proficient on the piano. Jason enjoyed playing it too, but not practicing. He stopped his lessons after a year or two, but Sarah kept them up. I don't know how the two of them came up with this idea for play, but I thought it was funny to see Jason acting the troubadour, and Sarah the flirtatious lady with the fan. I do know the fan was mine.

On the first trip to my inlaws' home after the children came, they much preferred the yard to the inside where the adults talked. They evidently decided to build a house with available materials in the yard. I think they must have brought the dolls from home. You can see what they made below.

Playing House Outside

Playing house in Carmel Valley in the back yard.
Playing house in Carmel Valley in the back yard. | Source

More Play with Props

This was taken at Kelly Park in San Jose in 1985. By this time both children were familiar with the West and homesteading days. It was perfectly natural for them to use this prop.
This was taken at Kelly Park in San Jose in 1985. By this time both children were familiar with the West and homesteading days. It was perfectly natural for them to use this prop. | Source
Sarah had a tough time learning to read. She was eager to read this picture book about a cat to this stray cat. The cat was not as eager to be read to, but really had no choice.
Sarah had a tough time learning to read. She was eager to read this picture book about a cat to this stray cat. The cat was not as eager to be read to, but really had no choice. | Source

Sarah, the Sculptor

In all the pictures above, the children found things to use in their play, and decided on their own what they would do with them. We never offered suggestions and didn't need to. The same was true when we took a vacation to Colorado. We had rented a cabin by a lake for a week as a home base. The children learned to fish from the man in the next cabin, so were often outside doing that. It was summer, and so it was still light after dinner.

One day we went to Mesa Verde National Park and explored all the native American homes there. Then we visited the museum there and saw the dioramas of the cliff dwellings. When we got back to the cabin, the children went back outside. I'm not sure what Jason was doing -- maybe fishing or just chatting with the neighbors if they were outside. But when it was almost dark, Sarah came in to get us outside so she could show us what she had made. We were blown away, since she did this on her own, with no suggestions from us We were totally surprised.

Sarah with Model She Made

Sarah with model of cliff dwelling she made in Colorado after visiting Mesa Verde National Park.
Sarah with model of cliff dwelling she made in Colorado after visiting Mesa Verde National Park. | Source

If Encouraged, Kids Will Be Creative

I was always amazed at the ideas my children had for creative play. We had no television, but we did read a lot of books out loud together. They seemed to get some play themes from the books and from the trips we took. Play was also a way to practice playing different roles safely.

I hope you've enjoyed watching my family at play -- both outside and in those after dinner and before bed times. I hope your family has also had this kind of fun.


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22 comments

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

This is a beautiful hub, wannabwriter-what special people you are! I have not yet read the story of how they came to you...but will go back to it. Thanks for sharing these delightful photos and your explanation. You are right-given the opportunity children can amuse themselves in very creative ways. God Bless Rated it up and across


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Thank you for your comment, Denise. I enjoyed making this trip down memory lane to this very happy time in my life. One of my greatest pleasures was watching these two play.


plinka profile image

plinka 5 years ago from Budapest, Hungary

I like your hub. I reminds me of my childhood. I usually spent most of my summers at home, but it was not boring at all, there was always something to do.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Maybe you should write a hub on your childhood antics. I remember my friends and I used our own imaginations a lot, too, in our play. We used to pretend a neighbor's back yard was a jungle when we played there. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.


greatparenting profile image

greatparenting 5 years ago from philadelphia, pa and corolla, nc

Nice hub. I wish more parents gave their children the opportunity to use their imaginations and play. So many of the toys we give kids now do all the thinking for them. My kids used to love it when we played picnic. They'd do it for hours but really all we did was to take our lunch outside. Calling it a picnic led them into a whole imaginative journey.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

As children spend more and more time at TV or the computer, they lose their imaginations. What lovely times you have shared with us WannaB. Bless your loving hearts for rescuing these children and allowing them to know love and nurturing.


Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

Beautiful hub and reminds me of my childhood as well. My brother and I had the best times.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

greatgrandparenting, I think kids really enjoy the kind of play that involves genuine interaction with real people where they can call the shots. Even pick-up-soft ball or soccer in the street or park leaves room for the children to modify the rules to suit themselves at the beginning of the game. I remember when Jason had, when about nine, trimmed that tree you saw him standing in the top photo. The branches had been neatly trimmed into shorter logs, but hadn't been moved out of the front yard yet. Next thing we knew, every kid in the neighborhood was helping Jason buid a fort from them, and then they played with it. When Jason was much older, not long before he died, we had been on a home school field trip to living history day at a historical adobe. There was a demonstration on making adobe bricks, and a few days later we noticed Jason digging a hole in our back yard so he could make adobe bricks and build an adobe fort. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to see what he would have accomplished because he didn't live long enough to even get a good start. But he and his friend Danny did build a terrific tree house in the pepper tree in back.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Hyphenbird, I almost didn't recognize you, since you changed your avatar. I agree with you that children become less imaginative when they watch more TV and play more video games. But they lose something else, as well -- the ability to converse and plan. Look at the difference between playing a game against a computer and playing at a table with friends or family. In the latter case, people talk, tease, scheme out loud, and reveal different aspects of their personalities. When Jason and Danny used to build things together, such as the tree house, they had to plan with each other what they would do and how they would do it. These kind of people skills transfer to work later on in life.

Danny was also not the easiest person to get along with. He still was a foster child who made frequent visits to his family and had to readjust to his foster home every time he came back. He was disturbed. Jason was the only one in the neighborhood I ever saw play with him, because Jason was a very compassionate and forgiving person. The two shared a common interest in building things, and Danny's foster dad, who was a teacher, helped them. Often Danny would get a bit out of control, and this frustrated Jason, but the two would end the play session without adult intervention and pick it up on another day or later in the day. People say homeschoolers don't get socialization, but I would challenge that. They and their parents just have more control over whom they socialize with.

Thanks for stopping by.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Lynn, I'm glad you and your brother had a childhood that you can look back on with happy memories. Thanks for stopping by to comment.


SusieQ42 5 years ago

I love this hub! It reminds me of my kids when they were young, playing in their tree fort and in the fort under the table that was covered with blankets. My daughter dressed up in all kinds of make do costumes, from cowgirl (with my winter boots and a funny hat and shirt) to her dad with his dress shirt, tie, brief case and hair all slicked back. It was so much fun! Thanks for sharing...


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Susie, thank you for sharing that. I think all kids would like this sort of play if given the chance. It's in their nature, I believe, and will come naturally with opportunity and encouragement.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

I love watching the things children come up with. A couple weeks ago, my son brought me out into the yard to show me a snow orchestra he had built (so he could be the conductor!)


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

aethelthryth, that is fantastic. He must be into music to come up with that one. Marvelous!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

Thank you for sharing this 'priceless piece' my dear fellow hubber, you preserved in your special jar of forever living childhood out memories:)


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Beata, thank you for coming by to read my memories and comment on them. You are right that they will live forever in my heart.


arusho profile image

arusho 5 years ago from University Place, Wa.

good job, kids can be very creative on their own!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

For sure, ours were, arusho. Thanks for stopping by.


evelynsaenz profile image

evelynsaenz 5 years ago from Vermont

Play is so important for children. Children learn best by playing. What wonderful memories you have and delightful pictures to accompany them! How lucky your children were to have you as their parents!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Evelyn, we were amazed at the way they played. It taught us a lot about them, and we enjoyed being their parents. Thanks for commenting.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I enjoyed your article very much. Great photos, too.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Pamela, thanks for visiting and leaving such kind words. As for the photos, I had great subjects for them.

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