Developing Through Storytelling: Toys Which Promote Creative Play
It has been argued by many developmental theorists, such as the late Jerome Bruner, that narrative thinking is perhaps the optimal mode of thought for human beings to organise and learn from our experiences. It is also one of the more powerful mediums for emotional expression, with storytelling as an artform stretching back the length and breadth of human history. So many parents over generations have enjoyed reading a storybook or telling a well-loved tale to their child, and learning how to tell stories has many proven benefits for early brain development and language acquisition. So what toys can you invest in to help your children build confidence in their storytelling skills?
Dolls and Puppets
Humans best stories are all about humans, or at least characters who act like humans, whether they be gods, animals, or animated cars. Storytelling can significantly aid in your child’s memory development, as it requires them to hold these different characters and their actions in the mind, but it can also be challenging for them to do so when they first begin to experiment with narrative. Providing them with a “cast” of colourful dolls or hand puppets will inspire new tales centred on these instant characters as well as helping them to entertain social scenarios full of human interaction.
Role-play Playsets and Costumes
It is an important and much-beloved practice of parents to remind their child that they “can be anything you want”, and to encourage them to explore the many and varied professions by which they may someday ply their trade. Whether today is the day your child would like to be a builder, an astronaut, a fireman or a doctor, investing in a playset of toy tools and costume will help them step into their stories and act them out, an important stage in their development of narrative concepts. Nothing is more enchanting than having your child call you over to their play area and patiently explain to you the imaginary scenario they have pulled you into.
Gadgets and Science Toys
As children get older, they will naturally move on from the natural ease of playing with dolls and toys to demanding more involved, realistic scenarios for storytelling. Despite the seeming opposition of science to storytelling, providing your kids with working toys such as microscopes, walkie-talkies and UV lights can help kids rediscover their inspiration and suspension of disbelief. Any child presented with a microscope, for instance, will immediately want to make a tremendous discovery, to validate their excitement at having something that works under their control. And any number of amazing spy thrillers have been silently (or noisily) written by siblings in possession of a simple pair of walkie-talkies.
Different children will naturally have different tastes, and some will take to storytelling and imagination-play more naturally than others. Nevertheless, it is essential that as a parent you provide them the opportunity and whatever aid you can to help develop this important emotional skill. Get imaginative yourself and come up with a prop or costume you know will help to spark your child’s mind.