Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Climb on board the imagination train

I’ve been marvelling, of late, at Rosemary’s burgeoning imagination. She’s been playing imaginary games for quite a while now – doctor’s, vets, babies and so on – but over the last few weeks it really seems to be blossoming and I can sit here on the sofa of a morning and witness intricate stories of family life, jungle adventure and magical lands.

I did a couple of playgroup duties, recently, which gave me the opportunity to watch (and join in with) some home corner play. There is a plethora of resources there and it’s fascinating watching them play out scenarios they’ve seen at home – putting babies to bed and in high chairs, shopping with the tills and money, doing the ironing (Rosemary doesn’t really do this one – I wonder why?). But what I really love is seeing her (and her friends) using their imagination to create something. For example, during one duty, the doormat at the entrance to playgroup was a doctor’s surgery and a swimming pool at different times. There was a brief conflict when Rosemary wanted it to be a pool and her friend wanted it to be the doctor’s surgery, but they resolved this by having the doctor do his consultations in the pool!

I especially enjoy, though, watching Rosemary create intricate imaginary scenarios with her toys and imaginary friends, on her own. Because that’s something I used to do. I had a protector called Dreaming Dragon. He protected me from the witch who would come out when you flushed the chain at night. In order to avoid the witch, it was necessary to run back to bed shouting ‘Dreaming Dragon! Dreaming Dragon!’ all the way. I let my friends join in sometimes, of course, especially Sadie. Sadie and I made regular trips to fairyland, via her mum’s old Singer sewing machine. We were, of course, fairy princesses there – Victoria and Elizabeth – but had to live in the human world for most of the time (for some reason that I cannot remember).

Rosemary hasn’t yet got quite as adventurous as my childhood fairy tales, but she’s on the way. She likes to go to the jungle quite often, and up mountains and into space. She loves magic. (Doesn’t every child? In fact, I still do.)

And she comes up with imaginative reasoning and ideas, which are often hilarious or sometime disturbing. On one walk to school, we were talking about burglars (I don’t remember why) and she said ‘Burglars are dead, aren’t they?’ ‘Why do you think they’re dead?’ ‘Well, they have skeletons and skeletons are dead, so burglars must be dead.’ Ah logic. Of a kind. The logic did fall apart when I pointed out that we also had skeletons and weren’t dead. But then she saw a pretty red leaf on the floor so we stopped worrying about skeletons and burglars.

When walking home recently, we heard a train horn and started talking about trains (we had been on a couple of train journeys recently). Rosemary was wondering what colour the train was. ‘It might be red.’ ‘Yes, maybe.’ ‘Or perhaps it’s blue.’ ‘Or green?’ ‘I know! I think it’s silver.’ ‘Ooh, silver. That sounds nice.’ ‘Yes. And do you know? Silver trains are magic.’ ‘Are they? Why are they magic?’ ‘Well. You see. They turn you into wizards.’ ‘Wizards? That sounds fun.’ ‘Yes. And, actually. They turn you into giants, too.’ ‘Giants? Goodness! I’d like to go on a silver train.’ ‘Yes. Me too. Actually, mum. You don’t need to be a giant, because you’re big already. But I can be a giant. And you can still be a wizard.’

Have your children started exploring their imagination yet? Or have they stopped now they’re older? Can you remember your own imaginary worlds and stories from when you were a child? Do you still love magic or has life got in the way?


  1. I love watching my children using their imagination. MiniMad has always been one for imaginative play and dressing up, whereas it has come much later for MaxiMad.

    I love the fact my boys love to pretent to cook, bake and clean!!

  2. Oh this takes me right back. To a time where magic was real and I could see it in everything, and when everything had infinte potential to be something else. Funnily enough, it doesn't feel that long ago really. I had a fierce imagination as a child and if there is the one thing I could foster in Kai it is this.

    Can't wait to rediscover the world through his imagination when he is older. Going be very special I think :)

  3. The Pocket Dictator (18 months) suddenly seems to get imaginary play. I watch her with her tea-set and she pours and drinks. She arranges her toy dogs and chunters away in a language I don't understand and it all seemed to happen overnight. Nice to think that she'll be amusing herself by the time Babydeux gets here! Aren't kids amazing???

  4. I used to love imaginary play. My kids do, too.

  5. I love to witness the girls' imaginary play by way of eavesdropping - sometimes they're just too cute together and I know if they see me their game will stop. So I hide outseide the bedroom or sitting room and just listen. At the moment they like to pretend to be different family members - you're the Mummy, I'm the cousin...no, no, you're the daddy, I'm the sister, etc...' It's normally Edie being the bossy one and Renée is happy to oblige. You'll love it when R and E start to play together. Something to look forward to! x

  6. Geekygirl's takes my breath away, the things she comes up with. She has two imaginary friends, leah and beah who get up to all sorts of tricks! Rosemary sounds very creative, such fun. I had an active fantasy life as an imaginary magical deer called "Mibbs" for many years. But of course I'm barmy!

  7. What makes me laugh is the high squeaky voices my two use when they're playing imaginary games. My eldest (H7) has also perfected a very realistic neigh which can be alarming at times! Both H7 and her sister R6 (another Rosemary) have an imaginary land they share where their toys go to play.

    I loved the burglars conversation!

  8. I don't get to witness much of Ella's imaginary play as she's an only child (not for much longer though!). When she has friends round, 'mummies and babies' is the popular choice.

    I used to pretend to play with fairies at the bottom of the garden and to make up stories and radio shows featuring my soft toys for my little brother and sister.

  9. I love watching my children play as they come up with some fantastic games. More recently I am enjoying reading Miss Frugal's stories, she is just getting to the age where she is confident enough with her writing to make up some really cute stories.

    I used to love reading and always used to pretend to teach my teddies to read. I even used to have a little chalk blackboard to help me ;-)