Kids love imaginative play. In fact, so do adults.
As a responsible adult, I often use my imagination – to pretend I’m lounging beside a pool, reading a book and sipping a cold drink, atop a mountain so high (yet, amazingly, the weather is wonderfully warm) that no one, not even the late Edmund Hillary, could climb to the top and make annoying and perplexing demands of me, such as: “Hey Mum! You pretend you’re Mum and I’ll pretend I’m a cat!”
Imaginative play is essential to children’s learning. It’s how they make sense of the world. They learn social, relationship, mathematical and language skills. And with a few simple props in the cubby house, they can really take their imagination to the next level.
Here are five easy cubby makeover ideas to kickstart your child’s imaginative play:
Indoor restaurant or café
Give your littlies their own special dining experience. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you like! Help them create paper menus – write down what is being served for lunch (even if it’s just Vegemite sandwiches) and let your kids decorate the menus as they please. Put a small table and chairs in the cubby with a colourful tablecloth (plastic for messy eaters!), and set the table with plates, child-friendly cutlery, cups and napkins. The kids could take turns being the waitperson, equipped with notebook and pencil for taking “orders”, and serve the food.
Artist’s studio and gallery
If your kids enjoy arts and crafts, let them channel their inner Picasso with their own art studio. Set up some art stations with different mediums – for example, an easel and paints, chalkboard and chalk, crayons and paper, “junk” craft items (toilet rolls, cardboard boxes, plastic containers) and glue. Once your mini Monet has created their masterpieces, they can put on their own cubby house art exhibition!
Music video recording session or silent disco
Does your little darling have a favourite song they want to listen to ad infinitum? (For my Miss Four, it’s the entire Moana soundtrack.) Let them crank the tunes – while you quickly walk away – for a cubby house disco! Give them an old digital camera so they can record their own music video. If you’re not keen on blasting your neighbours with music, make it a silent disco – all you need is a set of headphones (even better if they are Bluetooth ones) and an old mobile phone with their favourite tunes uploaded. Not sure what music to play? Kinderling Kids Radio has a range of mixtapes (eg. Summer Playground, Best Songs of 2017) to suit all mini music lovers’ tastes: www.kinderling.com.au.
Have your child’s stuffed animals seen better days? Sounds like they need a check-up! Create a cubby house animal hospital so your kids can play veterinarian. All you need are some doctor props – toy doctor kits are cheap to buy, otherwise simply make do with what you find around the house. Gather some blankets and pillows for the patients’ beds, have some Band-Aids and bandages on hand, and use an old/toy phone so your veterinarian can keep their patients’ families up to date with the prognosis and recovery.
Creating a mini supermarket in your kid’s cubby house is super easy. While you can buy pretend play supermarket sets, all you really need are some pantry items (boxes, packets and tins of food), a box or plastic container for the cash register, some circles and rectangles of paper for money (get the kids to make and decorate), and perhaps an old basket or reusable shopping bags to put the goodies in. Then let them haggle away!
This awesome post was written by Lauren Shay from Full Stop Publishing, on behalf of My Cubby – passionate about getting kids back outdoors!
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