It’s school holidays time again and no doubt you are racking your brain for things to keep the kids occupied and happy. Creative play has many advantages, including preventing boredom and promoting positive behaviours in children.

So what is creative play?

Creative play gives children the freedom to use their imagination to create self-directed play, without adults making up the rules or structure. Children can entertain themselves for hours on end in their imaginary worlds with just a few props and an idea for inspiration.

Why is creative play important?

Creative play allows children to make sense of the world. When children are allowed to use their own imaginations to self-direct play they are able to learn to express their own emotions, cooperate with others and build different skills.

Participating in creative play

How much is enough? How long is a piece of string!! Spending time with your child participating in creative play will provide great bonding opportunities. Join in the play but let your child direct the scene and play along. A little creative play together each day will be beneficial for both children and parents. It’s also a great opportunity for children over the school holidays to socialise and entertain themselves.

How to encourage creative play

  • Set your children up in a room or a safe corner or area of the house. Wardrobes, lounges, dining tables etc can all be transformed into another world with the addition of a few sheets.
  • Provide a few props to help the play along and regularly adding additional props can help to ensure they don’t get bored or run out of ideas.
  • Don’t feel you have to go out and buy all the toys and props to start the scene, kids have amazing imaginations and just a few props can nurture things along.

Idea #1 – Dress up tea party

A dress up box is an all time favourite for encouraging children to play creatively. Set them up with an area to have their tea party and encourage them to dress up for the event. Give them some paper plates and a few bits of Tupperware and other small bits and pieces for the tea party and they will be off and running.

Idea #2 – Make your own sock puppets

This one requires a little bit of prep. Some ideas for materials include:

  • Socks – stripy socks can be lots of fun
  • Variety of coloured felt
  • Wool for hair and tails
  • Ribbons
  • Shag and other furry and fuzzy bits and pieces
  • Fabric glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Coloured pipe cleaners
  • Velcro dots

We’d recommend cutting out a few shapes such as dots, lips and mouths, wings, tails and ears.

There are some great sock puppets on Pinterest to give you some ideas for bits and pieces to provide. Cut out a hole in a box and you’ve got a ready-made stage for your children to create their own puppet shows.

Idea #3 Create a fairy garden or dinosaur garden

Allowing children to create a fairy or dinosaur garden space either in plant pots or part of your garden is a great way to let their imaginations run wild and give them hours of fun. There are tonnes of ideas on the web to grease the little ones’ imaginations. Just pool together a few bits and pieces that they can add to their special little garden.

Here are some great links for ideas:

Idea #4 Make your own board game

Not only can kids get hours of enjoyment out of a board game they design themselves, but they get to use their imagination while creating it. Help them get started with a few ideas and supplies.

Idea #5 Camp out

This is an oldie but a goodie and can be done inside or out. Give the kids some sheets, a table, some bedding and off they go. Hours of fun, pretending to be out camping.

Again, check out these great pins on Pinterest with ideas on how to enhance the camping imagination experience.

Idea #6 Make your own slime

Here’s a video for making basic slime – easy to make and loads of fun for the kids.

If you want to go a little bit crazier with your slime you can create fluffy slime and then rainbow fluffy slime! Watch the video below for how to.

Idea #7 Role playing a Veterinarian

You can pretty much apply this to any particular role that your child would like to play.   Just do a quick search on the web to get a few ideas. Playing a Veterinarian is a very popular role that kids love to play. Help them to pull together the bits and pieces that they might need for their Vet Surgery and let them absorb themselves in their new world.

Some items that may be useful:

  • Play stethoscope
  • Baskets or boxes for sick animals
  • A check in form
  • Bandages
  • Set of scales
  • A sign for the Surgery Door
  • Tags for the pets

Have you got any other ideas for creative play for children? We’d love to hear about them. Post them below in the comments.

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