“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Albert Einstein.

The Oxford Dictionary defines imagination as the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. It could also be expressed as the ability to think of new and interesting ideas. Perhaps creating a picture in the mind may be another simple way of defining imagination. It seems amazing to me that young children can imagine anything, but as they grow older, they can begin to lose that ability.

But what could be the benefits of an imagination that improved with age? Some may say that it might boost intelligence and keep us younger. It may help us to transform dreams into reality, and help us to dream big. Imagination may develop and feed our creativity. Some people believe that using our imagination can help us to improve our memory and may even promote our empathy.

Here is a list of ideas to help you to boost your imagination skills. Choose one to try at home together with your family.

  • Invent a short story and tell everyone. You can make the whole thing up or perhaps you could embellish something that you did as a family together.
  • Play ‘Mr. Squiggle’. One person quickly draws a squiggle on a piece of paper and passes it along for the next person to complete the drawing.
  • Draw some pictures in the driveway with chalk or paint brushes and water.
  • Get a newspaper and make the photos more interesting by adding different things to each picture.
  • Take a paper bag and go for a walk. Collect five or 10 different items from nature and put them into the bag. When you get home, pick out an item from your collection and tell everyone a made-up story of what the item would be if an alien found it on their planet.
  • Imagine you won the lottery. What would you do with the money? Discuss.
  • Make up some ‘campfire’ stories to tell each other.
  • Lie on the grass and look up at the clouds and tell everyone all the images you can see in the sky.
  • Get a box and make something with it. It could be a shoe box, a fruit box or a box from a new appliance.
  • Rename the members of your family and your friends. Why did you choose this new name for them?

One of the best things about teaching young children is watching them play. When they are out at recess or lunch, they’ll play imaginary games, either with or without any toys. They’ll be running around and acting with imaginary props and they all know exactly what is going on, which child is playing each character and what they are meant to do. I remember being a helper when my children were in kindergarten. That was a truly inspirational time in their lives where there were little boundaries, but so much to do. When they were at kinder, the teachers were not required to report on the progress of the children; they simply inspired their group of kids to explore and use their imagination to grow and develop while having loads of fun. They were wonderful times and Daisy, Finn and Monty still talk about kinder.

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem

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