Recently, a friend of mine told me about a parenting book she was reading. It advocated that you should simply play with your child for as long as you can manage without negativity, stress or barriers forming between you in the game. This could be an hour. It could be ten minutes. If the game ends happily, then any time length is ok.
I can relate.
I find it so difficult, when engaging with the kids in imaginative play, to not suggest things, lead them into what I want to do, or simply just ‘be at play’. Tibbs is in the stage where she constantly says to me ‘Mummy, pretend that’, and the next bit could be “I’m a puppy and you have bought me and you are happy about it” or similar, and then she adds more “now pretend that” with EVERY sentence. I feel like I’m a toy myself! Of course, she’s just developing her own role play skills and directing me towards her own goals, and it’s making me realise that this is how playing with ME must have felt like for her, in the past.
The youngest is just a game wrecker, really. He’s 20 months and his idea of imaginative play is imagining that he is a huge wrecking ball that knocks everything down, or a grabbing handle that pinches the most important part of the picnic/tea set/shop/nest/castle and smashes or eats it.
There’s no shame in not enjoying one on one imaginative play all the time, or even part of the time. The trick is to find a way to ensure it still happens, because children need it, and thrive within its parameters. So, I’ve picked out some brilliant Bristol and beyond places which are dedicated to giving you an environment to do your best playing.
Brave Bold Drama are an outfit you should be bookmarking on FB for definite. Gill and Paul are amazing drama facilitators and children’s dramatic performers. They’ve got some fab events on in the next few weeks:
June 11: PlayTime – Sky! At Fouracres and Bishopsworth Children’s Centre, for registered families
June 15: PlayTime – Space! At Fouracres and Bishopsworth Children’s Centre, for registered families there
The South Bristol Toy Library – join up, borrow toys for very small sums, donate toys you’ve finished with. It’s simple and brilliant for re-invigorating your playroom, or trying something out before you buy it.
Colourful Minds – I first met the lovely Colourful Minds making medals at the Bedminster Olympics a couple of years ago. Since then, they’ve grown and are providing incredible imaginative play stuff in every crevice of Bristol. Check out the Saturday Art Club for 18mths – 8yrs at Milk Shed, and the inevitably popular Slime Workshop on June 1 at Kiln.
If you’ve got older kids (14+) check out this introduction to Graffiti course by Graft at The Island on June 9, the ultimate in imaginative play – they get to make two pieces to take home.
Sweet Peas in Warmley has some lovely sensory and imaginative play stuff going on on June 1 for very young kids.
Every Friday, Andrew from Dandelion Music hosts Little Musical Voyages at the Southbank Club, Bedminster for musical adventures and dreamy, playful songs and melodies. It’s real join in stuff. Check it out June 1.
Let’s Make Art, the (in no way offensively meant) grandmas of the Bristol imaginative play scene, are doing big tings at Ashton Court this holidays with bears. Teddy Bears Picnic playing. Two sessions, under 7s and over 7s.
Troopers Hill outdoor play legends Natural Learners are hosting a day of imagineering outdoors on June 1 for kids. Get out there!
Wick Road Library has some indoor imagination busting storytelling on June 1, Stories from the SS Great Britain. Costumes, games and smells will feature, apparently!
Dice Tales Family Theatre on June 2 at Creative Workspace lets the imagination run wild as the show’s storyline is decided by the role of the dice. How fun is that?