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Fun Imagination Games For Kids, Ignite Their Minds With Pretend Play

Updated on February 25, 2014

My living room was a magical forest, I was Alice, and my imagination ran wild

I crawled across the forest floor, my dolls were little creatures in the vast wilderness around me. There was a Queen's castle made from an old fan and a large bed sheet, it was quite the windy place. My mom was this elegant rabbit, in a hurry moving from room to room. My dog Betsy wasn't actually a dog at all, instead she was a beautiful Cheshire cat that couldn't stop smiling! There was even a magical bottle of Kool-Aid, and when I took a drink from it- I grew several feet taller. The living room was a magical world, and I...was Alice!

This was a typical day at Mom's house for me as a child. I could be Alice one day, a secret spy the next day, and even a magical mermaid when I took a bath! I always found new adventures to go on and new games to play, by using my imagination. I always loved to play pretend, and to create my own world out of the things around me. Sadly in this day and time, kids have become so involved in technology that they don't get to explore the magical world that we did as children. They spend too much time watching TV, talking on the phone, texting, and playing on computers. Technology has unfortunately, clouded a lot of children's minds. But it doesn't have to be that way! Below you will find several imagination games for kids, that will get their wheels turning. As well as some great tips for creative play, and even a Psychologist's view on why pretend play is so important! It is up to us, as parents, to show our children how to use their imagination. There are a ton of games to play with kids that don't involve technology. Photo Credit: TheWanderingFaun

Seeing the photo above brings back such great childhood memories for me. I like to remember myself as this little girl, with a big imagination captivated by the things around her. One of my biggest hopes for my children is for them to see the world through creative eyes. A fun imagination was definitely one of the value passed down to me, and I hope that my little boys follow in those footsteps. Besides, I can only Imagine what fun we'll all have creating things with our minds, and using the world around us like modeling clay.

Photo credit: akshaymoon

Celestine Chua
Celestine Chua

Lets Play House

My favorite make believe game!

When you think of imaginary games, you probably think of playing House. Most of us, at some point, have played this common make believe game. Usually someone is the mom or dad and the child pretends to be in charge of the house. As a little girl I used to be the mommy, and my dolls were my children. I remember tucking my dolls, or "kids" into bed. I would pretend to go to the grocery store with them, and took them into the kitchen with me while I shopped. My mom always saved the little plastic bags from stores, and she would give me one and let me fill it up as I "shopped". I always loved doing this part! I'd do all the things that mommies do, such as tucking them in or reading to them. If one got a boo-boo, I'd get a band-aid and fix it for them. I played House all the time as a child, and when I was blessed with a little sister at 7 years old- I had a new playmate to play House with! Now that I'm an adult, anytime I am watching my nieces or nephews I play house with them. This is one of my favorite games to play with kids. Photo by: Celestine Chua

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Grocery Cans Play Food Kitchen Accessory - 10 Stackable Cans With Removable Lids
Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Grocery Cans Play Food Kitchen Accessory - 10 Stackable Cans With Removable Lids

I remember shopping through my moms kitchen "buying groceries" but if you'd rather your kids have pretend groceries to play with as opposed to getting into your cabinets, this would be a nice thing to get them to aid their play.

 
Learning Resources  Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register, 73 Pieces
Learning Resources Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register, 73 Pieces

I loved the toy cash register I had as a child. I used to pretend like I was a grocery clerk, it was always a lot of fun. This is another creative toy that would be perfect for children to pretend with.

 
Schylling Little Helper Broom Set
Schylling Little Helper Broom Set

Let your child become the housekeeper for the day, what a fun way to help mom out while she is doing her cleaning!

 
Little Tikes Get Out n' Grill Kitchen Set
Little Tikes Get Out n' Grill Kitchen Set

I love this, it would be a perfect way for children (especially little boys) to pretend to cook and use their imagination. Great price too!

 

Pretend Commercials

The child's the actor/actress and their job is to sell you a product!

This is fun game, that you may or may not have heard of. When we were kids we used to go around the house and gather different items that we would make "commercials" out of. I remember making a lot of commercials from air fresheners, shampoo bottles, and even toothpaste! I mostly played this with my sister, who also enjoyed being a pretend actress! My mom would sometimes be our audience and we'd take stage in front of her. We'd do our commercials, and let mom be the judge (she would always call it a tie though haha).

How It works:

Your child picks a product, such as Colgate Toothpaste, (any product around the house will do). Then they get to use their imagination, as they pretend to be a talented actor or actress! They are going to use their great acting skills to sell you their product, or sell it to their sibling, or just sell it to their teddy bear collection who becomes a live audience! I remember my favorite thing to "sell" was the air fresheners we had. They always have something catchy saying written on the back such as "A delightful aroma of fresh cut flowers that will captivate you and enlighten your senses". This makes a great "sales pitch". Kids really enjoy taking center stage, and pretending to be some famous commercial actress. Its a fun way to help with their social skills, and their language development. Who knows, you might just have a future actress in your living room!

Have a make believe picnic

Have your children invite their imaginary friends!

Another fun pretend game is going on a picnic. Little boys and girls can take their action figures, or dolls, or their imaginary friends with them on a fun picnic. This is much funner for both boys and girls, whereas a tea party a lot of little boys will shy away from. It can be a load of fun to pretend with their little friends or stuffed animals. If your feeling up to it, you could even cut up little bite sized sandwiches for them, or some type of finger food to let them pack along!

What your kids will need:

~Wild imagination

~Blanket to set their picnic up on

~Paper or plastic cups and plates

~Forks and spoons (depending on child's age you might want them to use plastic ware)

~Pretend food (a lot of kids have the fake food, but if not that is perfectly fine!)

~And whoever they'd like to bring along! Is their favorite doll actually Hannah Montana? Cool! They can bring her on the picnic too.

Have your child set the places on the blanket, and set up their pretend food if they have it. They can enjoy a fun imaginary picnic in your living room, their bedroom or wherever they like!

Photo credit: oakley originals

Hide and Seek

Everyone's favorite imagination game!

What clever hiding spots do your kids think of? I know this was one of my favorite games to play as a child. Most kids really enjoy this! Its pretty simple, and probably goes without saying, but I'll explain just in case.

Hide and Seek

They'll need a playmate for this one. So if you have more than one child you can sit out...but if you have an only child then your playing too Mom or Dad! One child hides, one child counts (taking turns of course). Count to 10, or 20, or 30. If your child can't count that high, try having them sing a long song that they know such as the Alphabet song, slowly. The other child hides, and when the time is up then its the counters turn to go find them!

Great hiding spots are closets, under the bed, under some blankets, behind a door, in the bathtub, under a desk, etc. I remember I used to hide in the closet, and try to make it look like I blended into the clothes by staying behind them and using shoes to camouflage my feet!

Photo credit: mindfrieze

Pretend Play With Paper Dolls

or Paper Monsters!

Another creative way we used to have fun as children was by making paper dolls! It was fun to use our imagination and create our own dolls on paper. We would make accessories for them too such as purses or hats, and cut those out as well. Mom would help by gluing them onto cardboard, or an empty cereal box and cutting them out again. This made them sturdier.

We could design our own people, with their own looks, exactly how we wanted them. You could even play this with little boys by creating "paper monsters" and having them create their own monsters and cut out. We'd play with our designs for hours, and it was always so much fun! Photo by: Various Brennemans

5 Great Tips and Ideas for sparking your child's imagination

Using your imagination is fun and easy. Here are more great tips for your children for using their imagination. If your looking for games to play with kids, then please read these tips that will help you and your children get imaginative!

1. Anything can become something else. A simple spatula can become a microphone, an empty plate can hold a delicious feast. Those empty cups, can actually be filled with tea. The sticks in your yard can be long swords, or the empty wrapping paper tube can become a light saber. You just have to imagine, and anything can be transformed into something magnificent!

2. Your dolls, teddy bears, action figures, and toys can come to life. The great part about using your imagination is that you can make anything happen. I used to bring all my toys to life and they would go on some wild adventures with me. You just have to pretend!

3. Your home is your castle. Different rooms in your house could become different places of interest. Our kitchen became a grocery store, my bathtub was a fishing pond once, and the bedroom became a palace!

4. You can be whoever you want to be! You can pretend to be a famous actress, a mommy or daddy, and awesome cowboy, or a doctor! With your imagination you can be anyone, how fun is that!

5. Act out your favorite book, movie, or cartoon! Can't come up with any ideas? Reading is a great way to stimulate your mind and help you come up with great ideas. Why not pretend to be the character in your favorite book, movie, or cartoon. There are so many great kids movies, I bet you can think of one you'd love to star in...with your imagination, you can be the star!

Pretend play and one Psychologist's view of it

Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explains why pretend play is so important!

This is a stunning article by Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, where he explains how pretend play is so important! Here is the article titled The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development I definitely recommend all parents to look into this, it gives a more professional view on the importance of this type of play. Great resource!

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201203/the-need-pretend-play-in-child-development

Great toys that will spark your child's mind - All of these would be fun imagination games for kids to play

Although a simple pillow can become a magic shield, and your child can draw pictures of food onto a paper plate... but its still nice to have some great toys to aid your child's imagination! Here are my favorite imaginative toy picks for children. For some children its very easy to use their imagination, while others need a little bit of an aid. These are great picks for either!

Dalmatian Vet Kit, 15-Piece
Dalmatian Vet Kit, 15-Piece

Another great toy that can spark your child's imagination, they can pretend to be a veterinarian as they doctor up this adorable Dalmatian!

 
Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set
Fisher-Price Drillin' Action Tool Set

Let your child's imagination flow with this toy tool set! They can pretend to be Mr. Fix-it, a handyman, or the towns best mechanic!

 
ALEX Toys Picnic Basket
ALEX Toys Picnic Basket

Great pretend picnic set for your child to play with, have magical dinners, and go on fun adventurous picnics!

 
Learning Resources Pretend & Play School Set, 149 Pieces
Learning Resources Pretend & Play School Set, 149 Pieces

One of my favorite imagination games, playing school. A great educational toy that kids can pretend and play school with!

 
Wonderworld Pretend Pinky Cosmetic Girl Toy Set - 9 Piece Wooden Essential Makeup Set
Wonderworld Pretend Pinky Cosmetic Girl Toy Set - 9 Piece Wooden Essential Makeup Set

A great pretend make-up set. Your daughter can use her imagination to become the most beautiful beauty queen around!

 

Imagination games for kids - Do you think its important?

Do you think its important to teach your children to use their imagination?

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Rachel.Adams
Rachel.Adams

An Imaginative Child

Makes a creative and fun adult!

I'd like to say that because of my parents teaching me to use my imagination at such a young age, I've grown up to be a more fun and creative adult. I think it is a wonderful thing to teach your children! No more boring rainy days, teach them to turn their world into a magical place. I also believe that reading stimulates the imagination, and that is another great way to get your child's mind to grow! If your ever looking for new games to play with kids, I hope you will choose fun imaginary ones! Hopefully after reading this you've discovered some great new ways for your child to use their imagination!

Photo Credit: Rachel.Adams

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    • Zeross4 profile image
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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Kim Milai: Thanks, I'm glad you like it! I really enjoyed these things growing up and look forward to the future of playing them with my sons :)

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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      Really well done, this is a great reference. It brings me back to when my girls were younger.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @susan369: Thanks Susan, I have six older brothers- but I played more with my little sister growing up. But I do remember play fighting with them, thanks so much- I'm glad you liked it!

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      susan369 3 years ago

      My son enjoyed all these when he was younger. Not that he's 9, all he ever does is play fight, just like tfsherman commented below. Wait until your little boy grows a bit older! A wonderful lens, reminds me of my own childhood.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @tfsherman lm: Yes, these are all things I enjoyed playing as a child :) I sometimes play these with my nieces or nephews, and as I got older I was still playing them with my little sister for fun. I didn't think of that one, but yes little boys especially would love to do that- great idea!

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      tfsherman lm 3 years ago

      It's my guess, Daisy, that you are remembering the games of pretend that you played when you were...a girl. I have to tell you there's another one you left off your list. It's the Stick Game, and it involves any pencil, magic marker, wand, curtain rod, branch broken off of a tree which then becomes a sword, gun, light saber... Still imaginative play though.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @aminebombom: Too sweet :) I bet you really enjoyed that!

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      Amine 3 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      my nephews and nieces always like me to be the monster and eat them hahaha, i really miss those moments

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @CherylsArt: I used to play it with my little sister and because of that she was always ahead of her class and super smart :) I think that's too cute using the beanie babies as students- what a wonderful idea!

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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      My daughter used to love playing school. Her many Beanie Babies were the students.

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      Jacone 3 years ago

      What a lovely Lens, and you are right about children reading, the more they read the more their imagination grows. Some great ideas and paper dolls brought back some funny memories!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Halloween Cosplay: I agree, it would be dull and boring. I think of life without it like a million houses in the row all the same and everyone wearing the same color...

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      Halloween Cosplay 3 years ago

      Imagination is what makes our species unique, for better or worse. How dull would life be without it?

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @TolovajWordsmith: Agreed :)

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      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      Imagination is the most powerful tool of our species. What more can I say?

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @rking96: That sounds like great ideas, I might add magic shows to the list as well- I always loved doing magic tricks as a kid. I'm glad your daughter is using her imagination, it really does help a lot with their creativity. I bet she is so much fun :)

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      Rick King 3 years ago from Charleston, SC

      My daughter likes to have dance competitions, gymnastic competitions, and magic shows as well. I think she was inspired by various movies that she has watched.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @thebookhill: Thanks!

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      thebookhill 3 years ago

      A great lens to encourage imaginative play. Thank you for sharing your ideas!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Mix Mafra: I love that "We must give wings to our minds" Thanks so much!

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      Michelle Mafra 3 years ago from Corona CA

      I agree! We must give wings to our minds and we must start in early stages. Great article!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @takkhisa: Thank you, I'm so glad! I love putting a smile on someone's face. So glad you enjoyed it!

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      Takkhis 3 years ago

      You have made my day!! This is my best lens I have found this morning. Thanks for sharing these great ideas. :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @DeborahDian: Thanks :) I know I really enjoyed it as a child, and hope to instill it in my children as well.

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      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I love encouraging kids to use their imaginations. We don't do enough of that. Great lens!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Jogalog: Thank you! It seems like most people my generation or older have, but I've noticed lately that many of the kids in our area just don't do that anymore. It seems to be embarrassing to them? So glad you liked my lens, thanks a lot!

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      Jogalog 3 years ago

      I love the ideas in this lens. I used to play imaginative games a lot when I was a child and I think it's really important.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Gypzeerose: Thank you so much :) So glad to hear from you again!

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      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      This is an inspiring and wonderful lens - just what I needed to start my day. Bookmarked and linked to my own lens: http://www.squidoo.com/traditional-games-for-child... Keep up the imaginative life!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Johanna Eisler: Aww, I'm so glad :) Thank you for reading and taking the time to like and comment. You made me smile too!

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      Johanna Eisler 3 years ago

      This brought back wonderful memories of my childhood, as well as my daughter's childhood. Thank you for making me smile today! :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Stephanie36: Thanks Stephanie, I'm glad so many others share this view with me. Its really important, hoping that more parents will show their kids how to have fun away from the screens in the new generation!

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      Stephanie 3 years ago from Canada

      I love when children play imaginative games. They spend too much time in front of technology and it's great when they get away from it and back to basics.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @mel-kav: Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it :) Thanks for stopping by and checking it out!

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      mel-kav 3 years ago

      I love this lens. Ahh - to have the imagination of a child again would be so wonderful!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @VioletteRose LM: Thank you, so glad you liked it :)

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      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      Beautiful lens, I really enjoyed reading this. Its always possible to imagine things and make life more beautiful, it comes to children naturally I think.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @evawrites1: Thank you! I'm glad you like it :)

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      evawrites1 3 years ago

      This lens is awesome! So many great ideas, so imaginative. Congrats on the purple star!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Heidi Vincent: We are all stars though ;) and thank you so much!!

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      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Well you're the Star today, DaisyDixon! Great lens and congratulations on your Purple Star!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Zeross4: Well she's not 9 years old anymore, but when she was about that age I mean.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @WriterJanis2: I agree, it really seems like kids try to grow up too fast. My 9 year old sister laughed at me when I tried to play barbies with her...9 years old? That's not too old for barbies is it??

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      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      I love to see kids use their imagination to have fun. Kids use way too many electronics these days.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @unicornblogger: I haven't heard of that will check it out :) Glad you liked my lens, thanks for stopping by!

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      Elissa Capelle Vaughn 3 years ago from New York

      Love this! I've been working in toy retail for years. Another great product to encourage imaginative play is Rory's Story Cubes.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Faye Rutledge: I definitely agree, thanks :)

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      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      The most fun games for kids are when they're using their imagination. There are no limits. Let's pretend like...

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @MelanieKaren: Thank you so much, and I don't mind at all I love hearing these great stories! That is so funny about your dad playing funeral and the parents finding out, that's one I hadn't played before- but with little boys there's no telling what kind of stuff they can come up with lol. Thank you for sharing this, and I'm glad you liked my lens :) Nice to meet you!

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      Melanie Wilcox 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Hello :) This is a lovely article. Imagination is so important. Children have it, but in adults in tends to become lost. I have to say that I recently found out that my dad played "funeral" with a bunch of boys when he was little. hahahaha They even made a coffin and also made hosts out of white bread. It was a cross between playing "church" and "funeral." The bigger kids talked a little kid into having his face painted white and to get into the coffin. Well, a few of the parents caught on, told the others, and they were all horrified. I personally think it's a really funny story. -hope you don't mind me writing about it here. Again, nice lens and well done -love your imagination! :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @favored: Thanks so much, I definitely am a big kid at heart :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @AnonymousC831: Thank you!

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      AnonymousC831 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Love this lens. Great Job.

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      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Lots of fun around your place. What fantastic ideas to build imagination and creativity in a child. Great skills they can carry into adulthood.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @sierradawn lm: Thanks so much, I am glad this has brought back great memories for everyone!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @MarleMac: Sounds like lots of fun! I too played Indians a lot, especially when we were down at the lake and I could gather up materials and pretend to be living in the wild :) I was a tomboy too, until my little sister was born-she softened me up a bit! Thanks for your comment MarleMac, was nice hearing from you :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you Susan, that sounds like a great idea as well. I bet they really enjoyed that! I used to dress up too, I had a fascination with hippies :) So I was often a little hippie girl with peace signs and bangles. I do think its very important to keep passing this kind of play down as well. Thanks so much!

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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'm all for nurturing children's imaginations. My boys had a dress-up closet when they were little and I never knew from one day (or hour!) to the next who they would be that day. They're both excellent readers - and storytellers - today and I think the creative play really contributed to that. Love all of your excellent, detailed ideas!

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      MarleMac 3 years ago from South Africa

      Oh wow! Trip down memory lane! Awesome lens!

      My favourite game was pitching my teepee tent in my room and having a war with the attacking cowboys, hooping and running around with my imaginary bow and arrows and tomohawk. Real tomboy...lol! Loved that teepee...it was my escape into my own world. Close the flap and disappear!

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      sierradawn lm 3 years ago

      Your lens brought back memories of all the fantasy games we used to play when we were little. Our imaginations were our toy boxes! This is a delightful lens and gives pause for much pondering!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Lady Lorelei: I remember using pillows in the floor as stepping stones across the water :) Thanks for stopping by, so glad you liked my lens!

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      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      As kids we had a number of games we played with common household items. Moms old dust sweep was a crane when we sat on the base, dads rocker was a rocket ship, and we would place pillows around the floor that were our boats on the ocean. Your article certainly brought back some old memories.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @anonymous: Thanks so much!

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Imagination is a gift! You have great suggestions to encourage the next generation. Really enjoying your stories!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @sabaz: Thanks Sabaz!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you!

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      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      How very imaginative! It's funny how much we love "make believe" games as children but can often forget about them as we grow older. Great ideas for parents and kids, stuck indoors on a storm day - one of those days when the kids can't say anything but, "Mom, I'm bored. There's nothing to dooooooo." :)

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      sabaz 3 years ago

      i love to being a "Star" :) but it's great lensography.

      I used to be kind of imaginative and loved to hide out in small places.

      Really it's important to imagine ! Great lens.

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      rita-ray-44 3 years ago

      awsome lens! those were the good ol'days were kids were kids no technology back in the day. kids were kids using there imaginations ! we need to take away all there gadgets and let them be kids for a day ! use those imaginations kids!

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      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Love your lens, and the idea behind it! We used to play library and build forts too, or imagine we were the characters in whatever book we were reading. It's so important for kids to imagine! Well done!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @GrammieOlivia: Thank you so much :) I really enjoy seeing your lenses as well your very talented!

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      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Never let anyone steal your sparkle! If you are lucky, it grows and becomes more brilliant as the years go by!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @lesliesinclair: Thanks and beautifully well done! *Collects this wonderful note, and stores it with her treasury of magnificent autographs*

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      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      The slithers of waves lap gently at the side of my rowboat as I luxuriate on a tour of my own my little lake, my dog swimming along behind me, weaving back and forth to check out ducks and an otter, I dig a scrap of paper from my corduroy vest and drop you a note, signed with Papier's Word Paintings.