The Importance Of Imaginative Play

Importance of Play

By: Reily McGee


We all can understand just how much fun it is to play. But more and more, we are discovering there are serious lifetime benefits to imaginative play, especially for children throughout their development. What has also begun to emerge is the specific benefits of play. We can all understand how a kid who plays sports will benefit but with imaginative play, the question of how this helps has persisted. What is imaginative play? How can it help my kid?


Understanding Imaginative Play

Whilst there are many different types of imaginative play, there are a few key characteristics. One major factor is the element of role-play, or acting out a specific role. When thinking about a game like house, players act out family life by doing all sorts of things like chores. Through the action of acting out these specific roles, players immerse themselves into that role. This immersion is the other major factor shared in various forms of imaginative play.


From a psychological perspective, some psychologists have taken to defining imaginative play as “the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions”. This definition includes the two major factors of imaginative play: the playing out of roles and the immersion into those roles. 


What imaginative play allows for is an open-ended and creative form of play where participants learn skills like communication, how to balance emotions, and so on. These then translate into benefits such as lowered anxiety, improved problem-solving skills, increased comprehension, and the ability to articulate expression and explore feelings deeply. 


These benefits have been proven through many research studies. According to Scientific American, developmental psychologists have studied kids through ages of 1½ to 7 years and have seen a significant increase in the benefits above for those who regularly engaged with imaginative play throughout their early childhood.

Encouraging Imaginative Play

Now that we know what it can do, the question becomes how do we get our kids to engage in imaginative play? This might be hard to believe coming from a toy store but there is no need to spend money on new toys for pretend play. Simple packaging can turn into a boat or a car or even a house! An important thing to remember is that kids need to be given the space and opportunity to create these worlds on their own. Sometimes, providing a few different toys like a foam sword will help transport them into a mystical fairytale world. Or, by giving them an empty journal, they may turn into a teacher who is planning out their lessons for their fellow student players.


When I was growing up, I used to wake up super early in the morning. Before school, I decided to turn our family room into a shop! So I started getting paper and pens and marking different items in our family room (like my Dad’s programming books) with little pieces of paper I put beside the items. For some more ideas on imaginative play though, Healthline has some great resources you can check out for different ages.

For some kids though, having props and toys can help spur on the creativity needed to imagine stories. Luckily, Grandrabbits is just around the corner from you with various locations across the northern Denver metropolitan area. Our top-notch staff will help you find what you are looking for. Or, you can look for yourself by searching our website and ordering online. We hope this has helped you in understanding imaginative play. We look forward to seeing you!