Imagination is so important. It is something we do naturally have, but it is also something that can be developed. Imagination is important to our children’s mental, social and emotional development. When you think upon that you realize that, as parents, we need to provide opportunities for our children to use their imaginations. I have a vlog/blog post on imagination. Check it out here.
I am a BIG believer in our children being able to make up their own stories. I love hearing the stories my girls come up with. Sometimes I am shaking my head because I have no idea where some of them come from. I love to foster storytelling and imagination in children. Creative writing was one of my favorite things to teach when in the classroom. And I loved to read the stories my students came up with.
JUST DO IT
Imagination and storytelling go hand in hand. And a great way to get better at storytelling is to just simply do it and do it again. The more you practice the easier it will become. Of course our younger children are going to tell us a 1 minute story in about 45. But they are trying and that is what matters. It will help improve their language skills, instill a love of reading and stir their imagination.
It is best to start with oral story telling so that children can get into the flow without having to worry about the conventions of writing.
Some ideas on how to promote and foster imagination and storytelling in children:
A great way to start as a warm up is Mad Libs. This is also great to start off with children in thinking of conventions and seeing how much fun stories can be. It is a great family dinner table game. Or any time really. There are many books you can buy, or printable ones online. It can be fun to make up your own too. Here are some printable Mad Libs for kids.
Simply fill a box with some items from around the house. You can have a theme if you like, or just grab things at random. Pull an item out of the box and make up a story about it. Be as silly or as serious as you like.
This is where famous artworks are so much fun. What can you see in the picture? What do you think is going on? Just tell a story about what you see in the picture. I love doing this in the classroom. You can get 15 different stories from 15 different children. It takes a while to truly get into the ability of being able to look at a picture and use it as a jumping board. At first, if not used to it, children will need prompting and some guidance, but hopefully before too long they will love to do it.
This is when one person will start telling a story. You can have a set time (for example: 1 minute) or not. They will start making up their story and will stop at either the timer going off or a pivotal moment. The next person takes over and takes the story in their own direction. This continues until everyone has had an opportunity to contribute to the story.
This is something done on paper. One person writes a sentence at the top of the page, folds it over so no one else can see, then the next person writes a sentence, folds over, etc. and so forth until the page is full. Then you read the story out loud.
Playing with toys that promote imagination like PlayMobil, Lego, Barbies, other dolls, or whatever your child have, are great for natural story telling moments. Provide your children unstructured time to play with these toys and just go for it. On many an occasion I have had to leave the room so I don’t laugh out loud and what is going on. My current favorite stories are the birthing ones. For some reason my girls are really into pretending to give birth. Some of the things they say are hilarious.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…….BUT HAVE FUN
The important thing to do in this is to have fun. If your child is not enjoying the time then stop. Don’t kill their imagination by pushing it when they don’t want to. But the way they will get better is to practice. It is a skill that can be developed.