Before I get going with the next dose of imaginary silliness, I present the rainbow of play – seven simple rules that will make imaginary play mean more for your child:
- Pick a quiet time when you are unlikely to be distracted.
- Put away your phone, and turn off the TV and music to help you both pay attention.
- Lots of short play sessions are better than one long one.
- Watch and enjoy. Relax! Smile! Give him praise for his ideas.
- Copy and join in with the things he does. Try not to take over.
- Talk about what is happening, using very short sentences.
- Only ask questions if you really don’t know the answers.
It seems so very rude to make all these orders. I apologise. Well then. On with the show!
Collect: soft toys, a bath (e.g. a dry washing up bowl, or a cardboard box with taps drawn on), sponge or flannel, soap, a small towel, brush, toothbrush
- Tell the toys that it’s bath time. They might be very dirty.
- Run the bath using pretend taps. Check the water isn’t too hot.
- Toys could get undressed before they go in – take off pretend clothes if they don’t have any clothes on.
- Wash one bit of the toys at a time. Try to do this by making a suggestion (e.g. ‘his nose looks dirty’, ‘he’s still got dirty feet!’, ‘we forgot to wash her hair!’).
- Naughty toys will probably stand up and stamp their feet or slosh the water around.
- When they get out, the toys might shiver and complain.
- Dry the toys and tell them if they’ve been good or if they have been naughty.
- The toys will need to brush their teeth if they’re going to bed.
- Help them get dressed with their real or pretend clothes.
Model language: ‘is it too hot?’, ‘where’s the soap?’, ‘teddy’s very dirty’, ‘don’t do that’, ‘there’s water everywhere now’, ‘did you like your bath?’