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Imaginative Play : What Kids Think of On Their Own
The Great Outdoors
Playing with What's at HandClick thumbnail to view full-size
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
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
The Minstrel and His Lady
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
More Play with Props
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
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.