Imagination: Faeries and Scaries
As it’s coming to the time of year where our children consider costumes, dress up and sharing scariness, I wondered about using it more as a learning opportunity. Less of the scaries and more of the faeries. There is a whole world of folklore, magic, and legend that we can use to spark every child’s imagination without focusing on the blood and gore that seem to have become the norm.
Let’s use our imaginations a little. I know they are buried deep at the moment because our reality is so terrifying, we are struggling to see through the darkness.
Do we not owe it to our children to highlight alternative realities in the amazing, ethereal world of the faeries or superheroes? Brush off your imagination cobwebs and let’s get started!
The imagination is an amazing ‘machine’, ‘tool’ and ‘skill’…
Imagination is the ability of our brain, the mind to be creative or resourceful. It is the power of our mind to form new ideas, images or concepts of objects, places, events that are not real, that are not present to the senses.
We as adults can often under value imaginative play. Play and often imaginative play, is a child’s way of engaging and making sense of the fascinating and puzzling world they are surrounded by.
I haven’t yet met a child who doesn’t love a Faerie, Elf, Imp or Sprite. These types of mythical beings, legendary creatures have been found in folklore all around the world for hundreds of years. Every culture has their own version of these imagined little beings.
Faeries are tiny, often beautiful human like creatures (sometimes they have wings) that appear in legends and myths. They come in many races, tribes and clans and tend to be tiny in size. They can be mischievous, full of nonsense, a little naughty and even a little cruel.
There are so many tales of these amazing wonderful creatures why don’t we use them more often to spark the imaginations of our children for positive interactions and play?
These are just a few of the ones I know my children love to hear about in whispers words, made up stories and intriguing adventures.
Sprites, spirits often depicted as delicate, dainty little creatures almost like a shadow flighty and fragile.
Elves are said to have unique and extraordinary abilities. They are bright and agile, great problem solvers and have magical talents!
Pixies are full of mischief; they love to dance in the moonlight hiding in gardens and leading us in wrong directions in the dark!
One of my favourites is will ‘o’ the wisp, most recently seen in Brave, the Disney movie. They are flame like, bright light shines from them fleetingly then they go dark, this makes them so difficult to see.
Yes, this is all legend and mythical but so fabulous to spark the imaginations of everyone who ‘meet’ them!
Children learn mostly from experience: from what happens around them, from what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. To absorb those experiences and make sense of the world, it helps to be engaged in imaginary play.
Young children learn by imagining and doing. Have you ever watched a child pick up a stone and pretend it is a magic bean, a zooming car, or use a block as a person or animal?
This process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas.
Through imaginative play, children easily ascribe feelings and ideas to these ‘people’ and ‘animals’ and often use them to express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Offer your children a place to imagine. Create a space that is full of props, artefacts, and catalysts for imagining. Be a partner in their play. Try not to lead but to support and enable, to believe the impossible and the magical.
This time of play will foster creativity, promote physical development. It will offer a wealth of opportunity for conversations. If allowed to blossom it will boost problem solving skills. When playing with others in an imagined world, not everyone understands the rules and boundaries of this imagined experience. This can create situations where not everyone agrees and gets what they want. It also supports self-regulation, offering time and space from pressure, free from outcomes and expectations.
Be brave enter new worlds, get the faeries out!
A few wee ideas
Create a magical faerie space. It could be under a table or behind a bookcase, near a tree in the garden. Place baskets of interesting material swatches of differing sizes and lengths and textures. If possible, put some ‘wands’ (these could be sticks dipped in paint at the ends, silver foil wrapped round them or created by twisting stiff paper and taping them). Leave the children to explore.
Magic faerie positions. In the smallest containers you can find, place a range of powders (sand, flour, hot chocolate etc) and liquids (shampoo, food colouring, even shaving foam). Put out little bowls and let them create!
A door to another land. Create some tiny doors from cardboard and attach in curious places. Give them numbers and patterns so they are all a little different. Go on a door hunt and at each door enjoy little whispered conversations about what might be behind it, who might live there, work there, or play there? What might they look like and so on?