We all know how important play is in child development. More and more large companies, educators and scientifically-minded adults are realizing that a childhood sense of wonder is vital to be imaginative, creative and ultimately successful adults. This sense of wonder and creativity is enhanced by play!
I love this definition of play from the American Journal of Play:
1. intrinsically rewarding
2. Emotionally rich
4. Spiritually elevating
Simple ways our family inspires free, creative play:
1. Leaving lots of free, unstructured time
2. Having few toys but be sure they are open ended and simple like blocks, playsilks, a few wooden animals, one or two dolls. My kids seemed to require a never ending amount of costumes, props, items to play out their stories...buying all of these things and then storing them became too much! That is when we discover that a few simple things worked best. They use their imaginations and the playsilks for example as water to "swim" in, superhero capes, doll slings, Peter Pan costumes, fort building cloths and so much more.
3. Reading and telling the children interesting stories and fairy tales that inspire them to play
4. Going outside and working in the garden/yard, they will follow!
I inspire my kids to play by providing them with lots of different life experiences. This gives them something to draw from when they are using their imaginations. We camp, we stop at parks, we visit waterfalls, we travel and we gather life experiences. We play music and I provide a variety of basic resources so they can create and explore such as paper, pencils, binoculars, small figurines to take camping. Buckets, spades, cameras…