Developing Imagination

One of the most fascinating things about having a toddler is watching them change and develop every day. A baby who eats, sleeps and excretes gradually becomes a real little individual with their own personality and character. One of the most exciting things about this is the development of the imagination. 

Alongside the language skills that she is developing, Libby is gradually starting to develop the imagination to play games by herself. When left undisturbed for a while, she will chatter away to herself, playing both parts of a conversation and discussing what she is going to do. She also sings songs, occasionally making up a new verse but sadly not yet understanding what it means to sing in tune. 

When given some toys or props, she will use them to make up a very simple game or role play. A great example of this came yesterday when she got on her wooden ride-on lamb toy and put her dad’s cycle helmet on her head. She then rode off up the hall telling me “Libby’s off to work on her motorbike”. She knows that her dad goes to work on his motorbike every day, so odd though it seems, it’s quite a logical game for her to play. 

Whilst I’m no expert, it seems to me that the two most important things that are helping to develop Libby’s imagination are reading books and playing without adult intervention. I seem to remember reading that allowing children to dictate their own play rather than interfering is one of the best ways to teach them to ‘think outside the box’. Whilst I’m not keen on that term, I love the concept. I like the idea that Libby will grow up to be independent, free thinking and not constrained by societal boundaries. 

As for books, I can already see the advantages that Libby is gaining from them. We haven’t attempted to teach her to read yet, but when shown text she already looks at it from left to right, clearly copying what she has seen us do when reading to her. Today when she saw me writing, she commented “L, L for Libby”. Whilst she couldn’t see what I was writing, I now know that she takes it in when I try to show her the letters in her name. We have been lucky enough to have received some lovely books to review today, so Libby is looking forward to reading them this evening and sharing her thoughts on them on my blog tomorrow. 



  1. Marianne Hopwood
    April 11, 2014 / 1:47 pm

    Free play is so important. It’s why when I play with Ollie I follow his lead in the role playing games he chooses. His nature is that he prefers to involve adults in his play, whereas Toby is much more self sufficient and will play in a really focused way with sets of farm animals for example. I never need to worry about entertaining them because the minute we walk through the door I get ‘shall we Peter Rabbit, you can be Mr Tod and chase me’ or whatever his latest fancy is. It does make working from home during daylight hours a challenge 🙂

    • Natalie Ray
      April 11, 2014 / 1:52 pm

      Aw bless, it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to work at the same time as looking after Libby, other than the odd email or phone call. We tend to cram as much as possible into the morning, swimming, ballet, playgroup and dog walking and then by the time she’s had lunch she’s knackered and sleeps until her dad gets home to look after her, so I tend to start work about 1.30pm and work through until midnight where necessary but it means that I get to enjoy the mornings with her and do lots of great activities.

  2. April 16, 2014 / 6:00 am

    My son who is a pre-schooler now do this too! He will even change the pitch of his voice and that when I know he is conversing to someone. He would even let me join him giving me an imaginary phone to talk to an imaginary someone at the other line. #mbpw

    • Natalie Ray
      April 16, 2014 / 1:20 pm

      Haha that’s so familiar, Libby does very similar things. I had to give her a cloth to wipe up her pretend drink that she’d pretended to spill the other day! 😉

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