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Presenting Imaginative Play Experiences In Early Childhood Settings

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					Presenting Imaginative Play Experiences In Early Childhood Settings

Betty Farmer

       Imaginative play involving figurines and miniature animals has
been traditionally and cross culturally part of children’s play for
centuries. In recent years this type of play has been somewhat lost, as the
traditional philosophy of exploratory and meaningful free play in the
early childhood field has been eroded. In this day and age there seems to
be an increasing trend to expose children to structured learning with
“right and wrong” outcomes which puts them under needless pressure and
stress. Imaginative play provides a wonderful and absorbing play
opportunity, where children are in charge of their own play and need not
fear the risk of failure.
       There is an important difference between dramatic and imaginative
play. The value of both these types of play are the same, but with
dramatic play the child physically becomes involved in dramatizing a
role, where as in imaginative play children project their thoughts and
ideas through little props. In teaching students this important difference,
we need to ensure they “feel” what it is like to explore open-ended
materials and figurines that we would provide in early childhood
programs.
       In setting imaginative play spaces there are some basic principles
to follow to help make these areas work successfully. The selection of a
range of open-ended props is necessary to ensure the child has plenty of
opportunities to improvise and pretend. Materials set in an attractive,
inviting way and a well-defined play space will promote constructive
play. The same materials can be used over and over again but
modifications will need to be made to rekindle interest and sometimes a
complete change is necessary to stimulate new interest. Imaginative play
spaces can be set as a solitary, parallel or small group spaces, according
to the children’s needs and interests. For these spaces to work
successfully adults need to observe the children at play and be ready add
a suggestion or idea to extend creative play.
       The book “Just Imagine” that I am co-author of, has just been
released in 2nd edition. It includes an extended range of beautiful
photographs and information on how to present inviting imaginative play
spaces for children under 6.

				
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