This post is a part of our new Grow with Gugu series by Monica Banks, founder of Gugu Guru – the ultimate baby product discovery site for style-savvy moms.
After celebrating Halloween, we thought it fitting to talk about imaginative play.
Imaginative or pretend play does not have to involve getting dressed up in costumes. It can involve playing with figurines, using play versions of grown up things like doctor kits or anything where there is acting or dramatics involved.
You’ll probably see the first signs of imaginative play when your child is around 18 months old and he or she is pretending to be talking on a make-believe phone or using keys to open something. Children start through mimicking what they see adults doing. Imaginative play in early childhood is critical for social skills (like sharing and taking turns) and emotional skills (like expressing their feelings.)
Here are some stand-outs for imaginative play:
These magnetic STEM toys are hugely popular in Japan and just starting to gain popularity here in the US. The building blocks support open-ended and unscripted play. They’re also naturally safe, with no lead, no small parts and use a non-toxic, water-based lacquer finish.
I really don’t even know where to start with how much I love the brand Melissa & Doug. The brand offers all sorts of amazing toys and puzzles for all ages but when it comes to imaginative play, you cannot beat their assortment of costumes and role-play items.
Every box from this mom-founded developmental toy subscription company has has 2-4 toys, 1-2 books, and 2-3 awesome activities. The Feelings box seen here for ages 18-21 months helps children to recognize emotions in themselves and others and also understand what it all means.
Sometimes the simplest things encourage the imagination to run wild. The Field is a charming, open play grass field that is appropriate for ages 3 up. It was founded by a father who was constantly asked by his children for a realistic field to play with their farm animals and machinery. (Hint: this pairs well with Melissa & Doug animal figurines.)