"Play will be to the 20th century what work was to the industrial age, our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value."
The Play Ethic
There are a few things I will not interrupt my children from. One is sleep and the other is fully engaged, imaginary play. You have seen your children in this state - highly, concentrated focus on a miniature (or large) world, where minifigs, plastic animals, or little acorn people talk, sometimes battle and create a new world. The child is not only creating a world, but also processing all the wonderful, confusing, scary and intriguing bits from their life. Play is both learning and a form of therapy for children.
There is evidence that the creation of childhood paracosms (highly detailed, imaginary worlds) are signs of high intelligence and creativity. We can flip that around and make sure that we offer our children lots of opportunities in paracosmic play to encourage and strengthen their minds and creative muscles.
How can we do this?
0ffer lots of props (mini figurines, scrap fabric, pieces of nature, recyclables)
offer lots of time (we love movies and some TV shows, but generally do not encourage going to the TV when we are bored - that is a perfect time to create)
offer supplies to draw maps, guides, dictionaries, currency, flags, family trees, etc. of their world.
talk to them about the world they are creating, refer to their world through out the day ("I wonder how the people of Boobalot (my kids' paracosm) are doing in this storm?"),
respect their creation as a living and real thing.
stay out of the way - although support and interest is important, be sure to not take over (ahem, Amy) or you will kill it.
consider creating your own paracosm, through writing, art, making a doll house, model making... invite your children in.
Write for 10 minutes about the imaginary play you liked as a kid.
Did you act out plays, or play with dolls.
Did you orchestrate major battles with army men?
Did you construct elaborate scenes with blocks and cars or did you miss out on this sort of play all together.
Think back to how and where you lost yourself to another world.
Puppets are a great way to ease into paracosmic play and explore new characters and themes.
So, tonight, after dinner, let's all have a puppet show.
This is easier than you think; it can be as elaborate or simple as you like.