I'm often asked by parents how they can encourage their children to play more "imaginatively". I have always found that providing children with simple open ended toys (such as coloured scarves, blocks and simple dolls) will allow them plenty of scope to create imaginary lands, if you have time to get down on the floor with them now and again and interact - even better!! Extending a book you are reading, or an outdoor activity (such as a trip to the zoo) is another way to assist them children to "relive" the experience or story through play and allow it to work more deeply into their imagination.
Karen over at Earthly Joy Ride has kindly shared with us the wonderful and creative time her daughter Annalise had with her wooden bed and Evi doll princess from Honeybee. I just love Karen's creativity, her blog is dedicated to children's reading and creative play!!!
Here is Karen's and Annalise's story:
Last year for Christmas, I gave my three-year-old daughter Annalise three different versions of the story, "The Princess and the Pea". I bought her a small princess and wooden bed, and sewed ten mini quilts, and of course, made a tiny green felt pea.
Rachel Isadora's "The Princess and the Pea" is the standard version and has beautiful illustrations of African princesses with African greetings.
“The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas” by Tony Wilson is about a prince called Henrik who wants to find a princess to marry. Prince Henrik’s test involves not a canopy bed with 20 mattresses and one pea, but a thin camping mattress, an old sleeping bag and a whole packet of frozen peas!
“The Princess and the Pea” by Lauren Child is an amazing piece of artwork. Lauren painted cornflake packets for the paneled rooms and set up the paper-dressed characters inside with tweezers, before Polly Borland, the photographer, took the photos. The language used is just as wonderful –
You see,” said the king, “a real princess is not only mesmerisingly beautiful and fascinatingly interesting but, most important of all –"
“She has manners,” said the queen.
“No one should ever travel without them,” said the king.
“No, never, never go anywhere without your manners,” agreed the queen, taking her elbows off the table.
Playing with the princess and her bed has really added another dimension for Annalise when reading these stories