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This Is Why Children Need Imaginary Play

Updated on April 8, 2015

Kiss Your Babies

Tucking his "friends" in fro bed.
Tucking his "friends" in fro bed. | Source

Use Your Imagination!

Imaginary play is important for children. They need to use their imaginations so that they can learn how to be great adults. Children use their imaginations to mimic the things they see their parents do. In this way they learn to clean, cook, garden, build, fix cars, and other important parts of life.

Cuddle Your Babies

Yes - even boys can cuddle their babies!
Yes - even boys can cuddle their babies! | Source

Play House

Children love to watch their parents and other adults and do the same things they do. That’s why children play house. Playing house is easy to do for any child. You can make this game as simple or as elaborate as you wish. To begin with, you can build or buy a playhouse. You can build one from wood or from sheets and blankets in your child’s bedroom. You can also use dolls, teddy bears or action figures as children in the house. You can use dishes from your kitchen or buy dishes especially made for children to play with. You can also use paper products. Your child can pretend to be mommy or daddy and have a few children. Mommy can fix dinner and daddy can work in the garage, or mommy can fix the car while daddy fixes a snack. You can imagine all kinds of scenarios for children to play house.

Playing house can teach your child the importance of family. It can also teach him or her how to do simple chores around the house. Picking up toys, sweeping the floor and other chores can be acted out.

Let's Play Action Heroes

Captain America to the rescue!
Captain America to the rescue! | Source

Action Heroes

My grandson loves to play action heroes. He has costumes at his house to play Hulk and Captain America. He has Hulk hands and a Hulk mask and a complete Captain America costume. He loves pretending to be someone else. At Grammy’s house we don’t have the costumes, but we still have fun playing super heroes. He pretends to put on his Iron Man costume and flies around the room shooting lasers from his hands. All children can pretend to be action heroes. They don’t need anything special to do this – just a vivid imagination and some knowledge of a hero or two.


Pretending to be an action hero can teach your child the importance of caring for others and helping them out in times of need. It can teach them that others are not as fortunate as they are and that they can help them out.

Let's Build Something

Jaxon building something at his tool bench.
Jaxon building something at his tool bench. | Source

Importance of Imaginary Play

  • Important for cognitive development
  • Increases use of language
  • Allows expression of feelings in a non-threatening way
  • Teaches social skills
  • Teaches empathy

Jaxon The Builder

Jaxon also loves to pretend to build things. His parents have just bought a house that needs minor repairs and he watches dad build things and work on things all weekend. Of course he wants to be just like dad, so he has his own tool set and tool bench. He uses his tools to “measure,” “cut,” and “hammer” boards together and then take them apart again. You can also do this with your child without any expensive toys. There are plenty of cheap tool sets at dollar stores in the neighborhood, or if you are particularly crafty, you can make your own.

Pretending to build things will give your child the confidence to try it for real when he or she is older. It gives your child the practice without the worry of hurting themselves.

Imaginary Play

What is your favorite imaginary game?

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Wanna Eat?

Hungry?
Hungry? | Source

Let's Get Cooking

Another thing Jaxon loves to do is watch his parents cook. Dad usually grills on the barbecue grill and mom cooks in the kitchen. Jaxon has his child sized grill to cook up the steaks and hot dogs and has pots and pans that he uses to cook in the kitchen. Again, you don’t have to have expensive toys to do this. You can buy old pots and pans at the Goodwill or other thrift shop. You can use an old cardboard box to make a grill or a stove and refrigerator.

Cooking is important for both boys and girls. Pretending to cook will show your child what tools are needed and give them practice for later in life.

Boy's and Girls Can Play

In days past, there were gender specific games for children to play. Girls played house and worked in the kitchen and took care of their baby dolls. Boys would work with their little lawn mowers, power tools and cars. Nowadays, things are more gender neutral and no one thinks anything about a boy taking care of his “babies” or a girl mowing the yard. Regardless of what you think about all of that, it is perfectly normal – men and women are both doing more of those things, why shouldn’t their children?

As parents, we need to stop buying all of the cool electronic toys that require batteries or electricity – or at least put them away for awhile each day. Children need to use their own imaginations and quit using the imagination of game and toy designers. What happened to having fun outdoors and playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians? (I know that’s probably not politically correct – but you get my meaning.) Let kids have fun – quit having each and every minute of their lives scheduled for activities – school, sports, dance, play groups – and just let them have fun. That’s what being a child is all about!

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    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Colin - thanks for reading! I've been pretty busy with the apprenticeship but I've been around! I think we all need imaginary play!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      5 years ago

      Well I am 54 years old now LaDena and I still need my imaginary play especially in my writing. It's so nice to see you and read you once again and congratulations on your apprenticeship status.

      Thank you for this compelling read and I am sending warm wishes to you from Colin and his cats at lake erie time 2:12pm canada

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Carly - thanks for reading! Thanks for the vote, too!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 

      5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Pretend play is so important! I have some Play Therapists that are my friends, and their job is to help kids cope emotionally through play. Kids do this naturally. Just as we tell our stories to our girlfriends/spouse about our hard day, kids will tell their stories in their play.

      Voted +

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Stephanie....Thanks four reading!

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      VacationTrip...Thanks for reading!

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Pstraubie...thanks for reading...Grandchildren have the ability to help us become children again!

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Frank...Thanks for reading! Glad you liked my hub!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 

      5 years ago from United States

      I agree 110%. Voting up and sharing! :)

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 

      5 years ago from India

      Great hub. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Absolutely. Kids need to be allowed to explore and discover and pretend. So many fun ways to do so inside and outside. You have shared a number of ways to accomplish this. Kids will add their own little tweak to discovery and exploring too as you must know. I have learned to be the child all over again as my grandboy takes me by the hand and leads me there.

      Sending Angels to you today :) ps

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      justateacher you know children.. so yeah justa great teacher of children indeed.. love the hub and voted useful and shared

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Nora- thanks for reading! I think imagination is a great thing!

    • Nora411 profile image

      Nora411 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I agree I love when my daughter pretends to do things that I do. She is always pretending to cook, or talk on the phone, and she gets a kick out of it. I do too! Great Hub!

    • justateacher profile imageAUTHOR

      LaDena Campbell 

      5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Bill - thanks for reading - for the apprenticeship program I need at least 8 hubs a month - last month I almost didn't make it! I wanted to be sure that I got them this month!

      I think I'm good at writing about stuff for kids because I'm a huge kid myself!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are a writing machine this weekend. It's good to see you writing so much, LaDena. As always, excellent suggestions from a master teacher. I love watching kids play imaginary games. Bev is the biggest kid of them all. :)

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