There’s no denying it, play is a major part of our kids’ lives. No matter their age, children learn about and reflect upon the world around them through play. More specifically, imaginative play allows our children to become fully immersed in the world they’ve created.
Play itself allows children to practice their rapidly developing fine and gross motor skills including their hand-eye coordination. As well as developing these important motor skills, our children should be given the opportunity to encourage their mental development through the regular use of their imagination.
Teachers, parents and psychologists around the world have watched children learning through play, and have found that it is most beneficial when self-motivated, freely chosen, engaging and encourages the use of their imagination.
Imaginative play encourages active minds, creative thinkers, and learning about the wider world, all of which are critical to child development.
MiniZoo is an awesome place to start if you’re looking for ideas to encourage imaginative play with your little ones. Giving your child access to toy animals will allow them to imagine a world beyond their own. Whether creating a prehistoric region filled with dinosaurs, an African savannah, a monkey-filled jungle, an underwater wonderland, a working country farm, a fantasy world of fairies and mythical creatures, or a complete mix of them all, MiniZoo has Australia’s largest range of animal figurines.
Through imaginative play with MiniZoo animal figurines, children can develop, practice and enhance their:
Social and emotional response, both verbally and non-verbally
Whether playing alone or with others, kids can chat to their animal toys and create social worlds among them. Often children will create social environments which they are familiar with, where their animals are responding emotionally to one another in your child’s imagination.
Many of MiniZoo’s brands, such as Schleich, Papo, CollectA and Safari Ltd, stock male, female and baby figurines which help your child to imagine their animals in families and herds. It’s such a lovely moment to see your child imagining their toys loving and caring for one another, reflecting the social and emotional interactions they’ve experienced themselves.
Thinking and problem-solving skills
Creating make-believe worlds allows for higher-order thinking and development of problem-solving skills at all levels of learning.
Through imaginative play with MiniZoo toys, children can further their understanding of numbers and counting, sizes of figures, habitats, animal groups and available resources for their animals. Safari Toobs are great for recognising animals that live in similar habitats which can develop their ability to identify animal groups. Their play can also take them to a world where your little ones have to make decisions and overcome obstacles in many different ways.
Children who engage with ongoing imaginative play reflect their understanding of the world around them, consolidating things they’ve learned recently. When visiting the zoo, farm, park or museum, kids learn about animals, their habitats, and the way humans interact with them as well.
Imaginative play gives your little ones the opportunity to reinforce their memory processes and replicate some of the environments they’ve seen or interacted with recently. MiniZoo has thousands of animal figures to choose from which can help your kids do exactly that.
For example, if your kids have recently visited a farm, the Schleich Farm World and CollectA Farm Time ranges have plenty of farm animal and human figures, as well as miniature fencing, hay, barns, vehicles and more to help them recreate a country farm scene.
Understanding of the world, both past, present and fantastical
As well as reflecting their understanding of the world, imaginative play with MiniZoo’s historical range of figures helps your kids to learn about the past. Papo‘s wide range of historical figures includes brave medieval knights, powerful Roman emperors, fearless swashbuckling pirates and admired noble royals.
CollectA dinosaur figures allow your child to imagine a prehistoric world filled with plenty of fierce animals from a forgotten time. Additionally, Schleich’s range of mythical creature replicas also encourages imagination through the creation of make-believe worlds with Bayala unicorns and Eldrador creatures.
Imaginative play draws upon all of these behaviours which makes it an incredible opportunity for effective and lifelong learning.
Allowing your child to play freely and make their own associations and connections with the world around them will encourage their love of learning. Consider setting aside a space for your child to play imaginatively so they can have regular access to toys which will help to transport them to their make-believe world.
Imaginative play doesn’t have to be just for your kids, adults can get in on the action too. You’ll have the opportunity to experience your child learning and making connections between their imaginary world and reality, which is pretty magical in itself. Not to mention, your kids will cherish the time with you too!
MiniZoo provides you and your little ones the opportunity to create imaginary worlds, and with worldwide shipping and free shipping within Australia (over $79 AUD), how could it be any easier?! If you’d like some more ideas of how to encourage imaginative play with your kids, check out MiniZoo’s website and our Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts.
Jenna @ MiniZoo
Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts