You asked

How can I encourage my child to play imaginative games?

The truth is, most four year olds need no help at all incorporating imagination into their games, or anything else for that matter. Your child is as likely to pretend that your hand towel is a super hero cape as he or she is that the bath tub is an endless ocean.

Imagination is one of your four year olds’ greatest strengths at this point, and it’s easy for him or her to drift off on a fantastic journey where everyday household objects become weapons or wands, and the family dog is as likely to be a dragon as it is an elephant on a safari.

All of this isn’t just for fun though. Imagination and creativity let your child explore roles and scenarios that he or she would otherwise be unable to. It allows your child to pretend that he or she is just about anything. It’s also a big part of learning.

To help your child to play imaginatively, why not keep a big box of props on hand. These could be anything from store bought costumes and toys to home made items and even your old clothes. Use old household items to create a child sized fantasy kitchen or office, or even large cubes of foam that can be build into a castle or a fort. Keep adding to and rotating the items in your imagination box, and see what your child comes up with.

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