From fairy tea parties to slaying dragons, children are incredibly imaginative beings – sometimes a fairy tea cup or a cape is all that is needed to encourage this imaginative play.
Here I will share a simple way to encourage your child’s imagination through a magic basket.
You all likely already have lots of loose parts that your child can use to shape shift but, by having a magic basket, your child can get what they need whenever they need it and this can greatly support their play. If you have outdoor space you can keep the magic basket outside to encourage your child’s outdoor play – this can also reduce the number of acorns and stones rolling around your living room.
Try encouraging your child to have a sense of ownership of their Magic Basket and this may help to encourage them to return the things they have used for the next time (I know this won’t always be the case!) . Also some projects can last weeks, and so not everything can be returned right away as in the case of something like a fort or fairy house. You can help your child find those places that projects can be ongoing and left out. Ongoing projects can be beautiful teachers to our children as they hold lessons on caretaking, perseverance and connection through repetition and returning to place.
When you are out on adventures it can be a lovely time to gather things for the basket – maybe there is a stick that can act as the perfect broom, while also being a giant stirring spoon and a unicorn horn. You can invite your child to learn to have a reciprocal relationship with the earth through trading. When you are out on a gathering adventure bring some pieces that are no longer used as often and gift them back to the land. If you are not returning something in exchange how else can your child think to thank the tree or the creek for the gift? A song, a story, spending time in that place to give the earth company… You can model this for your child and they will follow. When I am harvesting around the children, I will verbalize what normally is happening internally, “Good morning beautiful bay tree, may I take your leaves for a soup?” (then I wait and listen actively) “Thank you, I have brought you some water as a trade for 5 of your leaves.”.
There is a lot of beauty in bringing these wonderful “loose parts” into your child’s play. They are incredible at expanding creativity and the imagination. Many of our toys have a clear purpose, but things from wild spaces can become anything! This leads to an expansion of the mind which helps develop our future inventors, engineers, artists and more.
What you need:
- A Basket, Bag or Box
- Loose Parts: treasures found on adventures, sticks, shells, acorns, scarves/capes,… Imagination
Now let your child transform! Will they be a fairy, a dragon, a fox?