Imaginative Play

Given the right environment, ‘play’ for children is as natural as breathing. It is the basis for their overall development, including social and language skills, problem solving and simple maths. During ‘play’ children use their imagination to create play from within themselves. If they have many opportunities to create play as a child, they are flexing their muscles (so to speak) to be creative thinkers for life.

Sally Jenkinson states that ‘play is the serious work of childhood’[1] and Joan Almon explains that ‘creative play is a central activity in the lives of healthy children’[2].

One of the cleverest men to walk the earth, Albert Einstein, said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. This simple, yet profound, statement holds the key when looking at toy choices, the play environment we set up and our basis to understanding early childhood. Imaginative play adds to creative thinking and higher intelligence in your child. In today’s society with highly stimulating toys, TV and computer games, and a fast-paced life, nurturing a young child’s imagination and sense of wonder requires understanding by parents. In addition, there is pressure to teach the young child with so called ‘educational’ toys and to fill time with outside activities and long periods away from the home environment. Play requires time: time at home and in the garden. Is your child’s week too busy? Make sure there is time for play.

There is one important question to consider when buying a toy for a young child: will it stimulate ‘imaginative’ play experiences? Imaginative play, play that comes from within your child, is the key to long term, happy play skills. Toys that merely entertain your child by buzzing, spinning or flashing, can be a quick fad; then create headaches (particularly in the adults around them!). Toys that develop good play skills in young children often mimic the ‘real’ world. Childhood is a time of great ‘imagination’ and ‘imitation’. Join the two themes together – to play from scenes in the real world – for hours of creative and stimulating fun.  The following two sub headings will outline ‘Free activities for imaginative play’ and ‘A list of imaginative play toys to have in your house’.


[1] Jenkinson, Sally; The Genius of Play.The Developing Child:The First Seven Years, No3, compiled by articles published in the newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004, pg.95.

[2] Almon, Joan; The Vital Role of Play in Early Childhood Education. The Developing Child:The First Seven Years, No3, compiled by articles published in the newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association Of North America, 2004, pg. 85.