Friday, July 22, 2011

Imagination and Make Believe Week

How did the Preschool Summer Camp find room for a movie theater, a pet store and a car wash that young motorists could drive through? No, the studio did not get larger to accommodate all of these features, but imaginations did grow each day. During this special week, counselors brought in the most powerful tools of imaginary play – cardboard boxes.


Stacking them up just right created a counter area. On Monday, a sign designated it as a movie theater and the children determined what was needed to finish the scene. Looking carefully at their freshly made tickets, they anxiously took on the role of ushers. Counselors heard, “You have a two on your ticket; this is your seat.” Foam peanuts became popcorn and sitting down to watch footage of the previous week’s camp got thumbs up from the critical crew.

A few days later children arrived to a new sign on the structure. It was now a pet store! Smaller boxes with strings over an open end made convincible cages. Staff provided stuffed animals rather than asking children to bring in their own toys. This helped the children focus the pretend play on buying, selling and animal care rather than playing with their own personal toys.

Using the sides of large boxes, staff cut out car silhouettes. The children carrying these around had no problem imagining that they were driving complete cars! Attaching long strips of shiny Mylar to the box structure changed it from a pet store to a car wash. As campers “drove” through the silvery strips, they connected with the drive-thru car washes they experience with the family. It was so much fun to get “dried off” after emerging from the imaginary wash that they drove through again and again.

Thinking of how bored her child would be without camp over the July 4th break, one parent was inspired to see how the boxes changed throughout the week. She declared, “Why, I could do that!” Imaginary play connects with all ages.

Submitted by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist and Sue Kessler, Play Coordinator

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