Imaginative Play with Kids

simple illustration of a stickI know my brain is capable of imagination.  This morning I work up in the middle of a very detailed dream. I was exploring the many unusual rooms of a fixer-upper we bought.  It had a perfect children’s room with a slide instead of a door to get out and over the garage was a theater room not with a stupid big TV but with a stage and curtain and old fancy woodwork.  The only downside was that it had a big hole in the attic floor you could fall into.  And we were trying to deciding if we had the money to fix it or if we should just lock the attic door.  Weird, but what a cool house!  So why is it that my mind goes blank when I sit on the floor to play with my kids?  My kids are so good at imaginative play.  They set up the Imaginext toys or their stuffed animals and act out elaborate story lines.  Sometimes they want me to play with them and I just dread it.  I feel like I am no good at it!  And I think of myself as a creative person?!

My question…  Where does our imagination go when we grow up?  Most things kids do improve as they get older but imagination and creativity seem to hit a peak and then these skills start to get replaced with more grown up interests.  When I do sit down to play with my kids and I make my stuffed animal talk and do things, my kids think I am fabulous but it bothers me how illogical and not very clever I sound.  I have a hard time just going with it and a lot of times I end up getting sleepy or tidying up while they play.

So back to dreams.  Obviously our grown up minds are still imaginative.  Dreams are proof.  This is good news!  We don’t actually lose it at all.  It seems to be buried during the day in our minds under what I theorize to be logic and fear.  And I get sleeping because it’s hard work digging it out from under all those piles of logic and fear.  We know creativity and imagination are valued in adults.  This is why I have my kids take acting classes.  It is the source of all innovation in virtually any pursuit.  Can you imagine how awesome and slightly crazy it would be if people spontaneously started roll playing ideas in business meetings?!  I know my kids benefit from imaginative play and by joining in my example encourages them and might help them hold on to and continue to grown their imagination.

Also by becoming more imaginative outside of dreams, I may come up with great ideas to blog about.  Hey!

I know creativity and imagination are connected.  Creativity is something I am more comfortable with as a professional designer, art enthusiast, and shy person.  In addition to researching this subject, I may try taking my How to be Creative techniques (which work well for me) and applying them to being more imaginative.

For example…

  • Follow my children’s lead and be inspired by their imagination
  • Remember the goal is to be imaginative not logical; channel my inner 5 year old
  • Try imaginative play outside; nature is really magical and sets a perfect stage!
  • Practice being imaginative everyday

Do you enjoy imaginative play?  Is it a subject that interests you?  Please share your tips for being more imaginative, book suggestions, and links!

Related post…

Imagination (recommended children’s books that celebrate imagination)


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. i think experiencing embarrassments and the realities of life stunts our imaginations, really. not for all of us, because there are those who can take those moments and use them to become great actors and songwriters and poets. i truly believe that when i learned i’d have to grow up and what that meant, i lost much of my ability to pretend. i find it hard with my kids too. but i do it anyway. it makes them happy. though i sometimes feel weird or just don’t feel like doing it, i know these are moments they’ll remember and cherish. so i do it. ya’ know, when no one else but us is around. 😀
    Vanita recently posted..Bomb In My Baby’s BellyMy Profile

    • You are SO right! They definitely cherish imaginative play time with Mom! I want to continue to explore this subject. I realized I have jumbled a couple ideas here. One being the idea of being inspired by kid’s pretend play and the other is the value of joining in pretend play for kids.

  2. When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband joined me at birthing class for the couples’ session. I was surprised to hear him say that the trait he most wanted our child(ren) to inherit from me was imagination. :) I had never really thought of my comfort level with being weird as a strength before! Perhaps it goes with my intuitive personality.
    Elisa | blissfulE recently posted..technical exercises and pieces for AMEB exam level oneMy Profile

    • That is awesome! You know, I think it makes me realize a big part of this is a personality thing for me and how I am uncomfortable with the performance aspect of pretend play. Interesting!

    • Me too! I am really amazed by their imagination! You know, maybe I do need to be super mom and excel at everything!

  3. I can totally relate. I used to feel guilty that even though I wanted to play with my son, I would get bored and sleepy while doing it.
    Now I don’t feel bad. I find things to do where our interests intersect and sometimes I still do imaginative play too.
    It’s all good. Anytime with my son is so wonderful. I’m so blessed.
    Kris recently posted..Are You Tired and Don’t Even Know It?My Profile

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