Trips to Disney are great for activating your child’s imagination, but unless you live in Orlando and your last name IS Disney, then there’s no way that can be your child’s regular after-school activity. In fact, you don’t have to go far from home to nurture your child’s imagination. Here are 5 ways to ignite that spark of creativity within your child from your very own backyard.
#1: Buy Playground Equipment
Awooden swing setis one of the most fertile grounds in which to plant seeds of imagination for kids. The fort deck can become a castle, a pirate’s look out, a lighthouse, a prison tower, or any number of creative settings from which kids can springboard into hours of imaginative play.
Additionally, since there’s room for friends, cooperative games that instantly trigger the imagination are made so simple. These games take flight as kids run across the decks, hide beneath the platforms, and fly through the air on the swings and slides. Quality backyard playground equipment is the investment of a lifetime for any parent.
#2: Build Sheet Forts
Whether you’re pretending to be camping out in the wilderness, hiding in a cave from marauders, laying low in an army bunker, or imagining some other exciting location, a sheet fort instantly transforms an ordinary backyard into an area where anything can happen!
Note for parents of older kids: If you want to really hold their attention for months or even years, invest a bit more time in your fort. You can get a few pieces of wood to make a more solid structure, and this will entertain the ‘tweens for ages.
#3: Become Explorers
Changing perspective is one of the easiest and smartest ways to learn something new. Since kids are natural explorers, giving them new perspectives to view the world from will be a fascinating experience filled with constant discovery.
Get down on the ground, and watch as their imaginations explore this whole new world. Climb a tree, and see their eyes get bigger as their creativity allows their minds to expand as well, and take them from one corner of the world to the next by exploring every inch of your backyard in new and interesting ways.
#4: Get Props
Nature is filled with all kinds of props that kids can use in countless imaginative play games. Any parent who has observed his or her child pick up a stick, look at it for a moment, and then dart off gleefully with their new sword/staff/scepter/wand/crutch/etc. in hand knows this to be true. Logs, sticks, flowers, leaves, rocks, acorns, pinecones, and many other treasures lie in wait for your kids to incorporate them into their play time.
You can also bring some fun props from around the house to make the outdoors more enjoyable. A homemade sandbox, a whiteboard, an old 2x4, yarn, clothes pins, empty bottles or jars, DIY water table, or a sprinkler system are all superb props that change these items from ordinary objects into the most thrilling adventure tools when you add just one ingredient: an active child’s imagination.
#5: Get Artistic
For children with a natural bend towards art there is no better outdoor play than a crafts corner. You can pick any spot out back, and put up an easel for an instant art studio in your own backyard. If there’s a tree hanging above it, you can string up jars of paint, cans for pencils and crayons, and rolls of paper so your child will have everything she needs to create masterpieces in the great outdoors.