Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Week 10: Imaginative Play

Theme: Imaginative Play
Objective: To foster the development of imaginative play.
Letter of the Week: I
Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters. 
Special Items Needed:
  • Books
  • Shows/Movies
  • Costumes/Dress-up
  • “Real Life” Toys

Imaginative Play
The Importance of Imaginative Play
As a former first grade teacher, I want to share a few of my personal insights (a.k.a. opinions) about the importance of imaginative play. 
·         Imaginative play is the beginning of reading comprehension.  When your toddler pretends to be something out of a book (even just the role or job of a book character), your child is actually displaying her story re-tell ability.  This is vital to all of reading comprehension. 

·         Imaginative play is also the beginning of writing.  I know, I know, it may not seem like it, but when your child is pretending to be something, he is actually telling a story.  This ability to create stories is what will someday allow your child to write stories on paper.  Without the ability to create and tell stories, your child will not be able to write stories.

·         Imaginative play is an excellent display of communication abilities.  Asking your child what she is “being” or pretending develops her ability to communicate ideas in her head.  She is displaying that she has an idea inside herself that she can now communicate.

·         Imaginative play is the beginning of abstract thinking.  It is moving our child’s thinking and knowledge from the actual, concrete world to an abstract, imagined world. 

Ways to Foster the Development of Imaginative Play
Now that I’ve emphasized the importance of imaginative play, I want to offer some suggestions for ways to foster imaginative play.  You cannot “make” your child understand pretend; however, most likely out of the blue one day, your child will begin to pretend something.  Then you will know that the world of imagination has begun.  For us the beginning was simply my son pretending to be the “mailman” after we daily checked the mail together since he was a baby and him repeatedly watching the same “mail truck” episode of The Backyardigans.  From there, his imaginative play has expanded continuously!  Let your child lead his desire for imaginative play, but definitely join the his imaginary world! 
The following are a few ways to facilitate the development and growth of imaginative play:
·         Read Books

o   I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading to your child.  Read lots of books and often.  Try to read every day.  Click here to read my thoughts on early, early literacy.  Also read below (under the heading “Scholastic Book Clubs”) for ways to purchase cheap books.

·         Offer “Real Life” Toys

o   “Real Life” toys are toys that imitate real life: toy vacuums, toy food, baby dolls, kid-sized tables, etc.  These are toys that mimic adult life and allow your child to pretend to be like you.  They create a “real world” experience through play as they use these toys in their pretend world.  Even pretending to eat play food is a part of imaginative play.

·         Collect Costumes/Dress-up

o   You don’t have to spend a ton of money on this!  Just start collecting hats, sunglasses, dresses, jackets, wigs, etc.  This is not limited to little girls, either.  Boys are also meant to engage in costumes…it just will probably be a little different than the traditional ideas of girly “dress-up.”  My sons and I (and my husband) have had a ball with some clown wigs and an afro wig we found in my husband’s old “college days” box.  For one birthday, I asked relatives for hats for my son: construction hat, fireman hat, cowboy hat, etc.  These are so much fun and allow your child to take on various roles in her imaginative play.

·         Watch (developmentally appropriate) shows and movies

o   I know that not all will agree with me on this point; however, as a parent, I have found that many of the imaginative things my son plays are from some of his favorite episodes of Dora the Explorer and The Backyardigans.  He loves to role play what he just watched on these shows.  Previously as a teacher, I probably would have discouraged shows/movies as a way to develop imaginative play; however, my experience as a parent has “expanded” my opinions.  Talk with your child about what he watches.  Have him retell you what happened in an episode of his favorite show.  Watch him begin to be the characters he sees. 
Scholastic Book Clubs
First, let me clarify that I am getting absolutely no kickback for recommending this book club.  I honestly just love it and think it’s an excellent resource.  Plus, I recently discovered that Scholastic Book Clubs has a book club for 2-4 year olds, called “Honeybee.”  Each Scholastic Book Club flyer offers developmentally appropriate books at reasonable prices.  Often there are $1 and $2 books offered in each flyer.  You can combine flyers into one order, plus you’re never committed to spending any money.  If you are interested in looking into this, click here, to access the Scholastic Book Clubs website.  You can register yourself as a “home school” preschool or you can get a group of moms together and register under one of you as the leader of a “home school” preschool co-op.  Take a look to see what might work for you.
Letter Work
I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “I” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 
Coloring the Letter “I”
To introduce the later “I,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “I” to print).  We will talk about the letter “I” and will color it. 
Letter Search
We will continue our work on the letter “I” by trying to identify the “I” in words that start with the letter “I.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “I” and only have that “I” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “I.” 
Rainbow “I”
We will also practice tracing the letter “I.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow I,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “I” in multiple colors.
For additional Letter “I” activities, click here. 

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