Children love stories!
They are drawn to heroic characters, adventure, exploration and magic. It’s childhood in a nutshell.
Once children become immersed in a story they will transpose it to their play. This type of play is called imaginative play, also referred to as “pretend play” or “role play”.
Catherine Sewell, Play Thinker in Residence at Playgroup NSW offers a few great ideas you can try to include stories in your child’s imaginative play.
1. Pretend to be characters from stories
You know your child’s favourite book character from that story last night? Use it for today’s play activity.
Catherine advises, “You don’t have to re-enact the story, just be the character.” All you have to say is, “Let’s be Gruffalo from the story last night,” and let your child take the lead.
If your child is pretending to be the character, who are you pretending to be?
Catherine encourages parents to play along with their children. “You be the one who plays another character in the book. It will be a great opportunity to remember and link to other characters in the story.”
2. Draw characters from the book
Drawing is a great activity you can link to stories. They go hand-in-hand, as they both prompt children to imagine and create.
Get a large piece of paper and some crayons out. Encourage your child to draw the characters from the book you’ve read together.
Tip: To make this activity more interesting, suggest your child draw one of their favourite moments from the book.
3. Recall the story on your outdoor walks
Your outdoor walks can be the perfect scene for imaginative play.
Ask your child if they remember their bedtime story. Catherine suggests, “Encourage children to remember what happened in the story and help them recall the storyline in chronological order.”
Tip: Children may have a hard time getting the story line in order at first. Just remember this is something you’re working towards, so be patient. You can take turns in retelling the story.
Make your activity more interesting by linking things they already know with elements from the story.
For example, you could say, “Look at that yellow lemon in the tree. That’s exactly the same colour as the yellow lion we saw in the book we read last night.”
4. Expand the story as your read it
Reading is fun. You can make it even more fun by encouraging your child to widen the story with their imagination.
Here are a few of Catherine’s fun suggestions:
- When you read, prompt your child to predict what might happen on the next page
- Name objects on the page, this will help with their vocabulary skills
- Repeat words you’ve read and act out as you are reading, it will create the rhythm and intrigue to your story
- Make up songs together about the story
These are just a few simple tips and tricks you can try to encourage children to use their bedtime stories in their imaginative play.
Catherine has a few more tips for imaginative play with babies, “You can try retelling the story as you pat them gently on their back, or you could whisper the story. This can be a great soothing strategy to get them ready for bed.”
Try these creative ideas at home or at your playgroup.