8 Ways To Inspire Imaginative Play

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kohl’s. I was paid for this post and received the included Carter’s clothing as compensation. Post may contain affiliate links.

When I was a child I would spend all day playing. During the summer months I would spend my waking hours outside, barely coming in to eat unless my mom forced me to or bribed me. During the colder months I would spend all day making up stories with my dolls, stuffed animals or playing hairdresser with friends. We would often color each other’s hair rainbow. We let our imaginations run wild all day long and I believe it made me a much more creative and ultimately successful adult.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

Today my daughter’s favorite color is rainbow but life is so much different for her than it was for me. At 4 and a half-years-old she gets homework in preschool. Sure she has plenty of playtime too but her days are much more structured. She starts kindergarten next year and I’m a bit concerned she is going to miss out on opportunities to let her imagination run wild.

When my daughter and my son are home I try to do activities with them that will inspire imaginative play. They would love it if I could play with them all the time and lead the way, but let’s face it, sometimes I can play with them and sometimes I can’t. Other times I’m capable of playing with them, and do, but believe it’s important that they cultivate their own imaginations instead of relying on me to set the scene.

Here are a few things we do together or they can do solo to jump start their imaginations.


Look for shapes in the clouds

I love this activity because you can do it in the car. We’ve often played it on the way home from school. When we’re outside I love to get the kids dressed in comfy clothing from the Kohl’s Carter’s Kids collection so we can really get comfortable while we relax and look for shapes. I love to watch her lay on the trampoline and let her mind go and hear all about what she sees. The things she finds are all her own.

Drawing prompts

My daughter and son both love to draw and color. Sometimes I ask her to draw something for me just to see where her imagination takes her. If I ask her to draw me a Christmas tree she usually adds ornaments and decorates the tree all on her own. Sometimes the tree might be outside, other times it might have presents underneath it. I love that I can start her on an idea and she can take that thought and turn it into something that’s completely her’s. I can’t wait till my son understands enough and has enough control to do the same thing. Right now he scribbles, which is important to me in its own right.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

Solo “reading”

Reading is really important for our family. I love to curl up with the kids and read them a book that I know they love. Sometimes though, I like it when they solo “read.” Neither of them can actually read yet but I learned this trick from their school. Each time they pick up a book they make it their own. The pictures tell them a story that’s different from the ones I read and that’s perfectly ok. While they prefer I read to them, they will also happily curl up in a pair of Carter’s jeans or stretchy pants from Kohl’s and create a story for themselves.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life


Allowing my kids to run, jump, climb and just be kids outside, or inside, is so important for them from a health prospective and it helps to spark ideas that often lead to more fun. We just simply throw on some of our play clothing from Carter’s and head out to let them work out all that energy – exercising their bodies as well as their minds.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

Play make-believe

Sometimes my daughter and I play hairdresser and I get to be the client, sometimes we play house and I get to be the baby (imagine that!), other times we play store in her little house in the backyard and she “cooks” for me. No matter what we are playing, I try to let her lead as much as possible or ask her questions to take her to the next big idea in our make-believe play. It doesn’t matter what we are playing as long as we are pretending to be someone else and/or somewhere else. Our imaginations lead the way.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

Exploring their world

I try to make sure I teach my kids something new each week. Considering the age they are at, I’m sure I teach them more often than that. However, I intentionally make it a point to show them something new in their world each week. Sometimes we do this through and art project like we did with our slime planets. Other times we throw on their Carter’s jackets and do this with a trip to the zoo where we can see, touch and learn about animals and their sounds. Doing something like this always sparks questions and questions always lead to new ideas.

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

Play dough

I know some moms twitch when you mention play dough. It’s messy. It drives them crazy when the colors get all mixed up. However, I adore play dough. Not only does it keep my kids busy but it keeps them creating and imagining new things to create. My daughter often makes snakes or animals and has been playing with play dough for years. I recently introduced my son to play dough and showed him how to cut it with a plastic knife. I know going forward this will be one of his favorite activities and I know it will keep both their imaginations working overtime as they cut, stamp and press the dough into new shapes.

Dance it out

We tend to dance a lot in our house. Like exercising, it lets us get energy out and we get to pretend we are singers and dancers at a concert. My daughter often likes to pretend she is Taylor Swift, even though we’ve been listening to a lot more Justin Timberlake these days. We like to do this on a Saturday morning when everyone is still in their cozy Carter’s pajamas or on Sunday afternoons when we need to reset after nap time ends. Shaking our booties in the living room seems to jump start us our imaginations though and we are quickly off to another activity that stems from our family concert.

What other ways do you inspire your kids’ imaginations at home?

For more motherhood tips, click here. 

imaginative play - The Everyday Mom Life

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  • robin masshole mommy March 14, 2017 09.08 pm

    I love looking for shapes in the clouds with my kids. It’s a great way to get imaginative.

  • fashionbeyondforty March 14, 2017 10.12 pm

    Play dough and cloud spotting are my favorites on your list. All great ideas! it is so vital we encourage use of imagination in our children!

  • loisaltermark March 15, 2017 12.20 am

    These are great tips. It’s so important to encourage kids to use their imaginations – and harder and harder to do in this age of electronics.

  • Befitting Style March 15, 2017 12.25 am

    Exploring their world is always fun. I feel like it makes them feel like they have some kind of say in this world.

  • momknowsbest15 March 15, 2017 03.07 am

    So glad to see parents spark their kids imagination. Kids need to use their imagination so more often

  • Sarah Bailey March 15, 2017 08.13 am

    Proper nurturing of kids with food, clothes. shelter, sleep, time and love will make their childhood the best thing they will cherish and own. Nurture kids imagination with creative indoor and outdoor activities that can teach them how to develop planning and problem-solving skills.

  • Elizabeth O. March 15, 2017 11.29 am

    These are all lovely ways to inspire and help develop your child’s creativity and imagination. Playing plays a huge part in that as well.

  • annalisanuttall March 15, 2017 12.25 pm

    Awww these are lovely tips and I need to help my niece imagination. xx

  • Erin (@FaithFoodFamFun) March 15, 2017 03.26 pm

    My niece is OBSESSED with play-doh! It definitely inspires children’s imaginations for sure! She’ll make a blob of playdoh, say it’s a T-rex and I’ll just sit there and agree. 🙂

  • Cynthia Nicoletti March 15, 2017 05.03 pm

    Great ways to inspire young children to learn. I think it is a good idea to sit with them for awhile and teach them to use their imagination by starting to use yours first.

  • Dawn Gibson-Thigpen March 15, 2017 06.37 pm

    omg the kiddies are so cute. these are some awesome tips and a very important thing to do

  • Michelle Waller March 16, 2017 02.49 am

    I do pretty much all of these with my daughters. They are both little artists and can make pictures out of torn paper.

  • cvnxena March 16, 2017 08.24 pm

    This is awesome and perfect for us at the moment as we are trying to get our 5 year old to be more creative!

  • Janel Berchielli (@JanelB) March 16, 2017 08.51 pm

    I love to shop at Kohls. We have one very close to where we live. When my kids were little comfortable and affordable clothing was the way to go

  • Terri Steffes March 16, 2017 09.57 pm

    I still look for shapes in the clouds. I believe they are angels there, you just have to look closely! 😉

  • sparkofsouthernmoms March 16, 2017 11.38 pm

    All these are great! Anything to make them think and play!

  • Amanda Love March 17, 2017 12.00 am

    Give them the tools and they will definitely use them. That’s what’s so awesome about kids. These are lovely ideas. There’s nothing like encouraging your kids to imagine.

  • Brandi with Big Fit Fam March 17, 2017 02.21 am

    These are all wonderful ideas, and your pictures are so vibrant and pretty, helps that you have an adorable subject!

  • Marielle Altenor March 17, 2017 07.05 am

    I love these tips! As a mother of two I’ve learned how important it is to encourage my kids to try new things. I also do my best to play with them as much as I can.

  • journaliz March 17, 2017 08.17 am

    my 7-year old loves to look for shapes in the clouds, though sometimes i cannot “see” what she sees..lol… 🙂

  • Yona Williams March 17, 2017 01.30 pm

    I am so happy that my nephew finally tapped into his creative side. He was scaring me for a moment, as he was too rigid in his coloring. Everything HAD to be the proper color. He got over that, and he and I now share a love of art and making unique, imaginative creations. We used to play a game where we’d draw things out of squiggle lines that we made for one another. That was a lot of fun.

  • nmetolen75 March 17, 2017 02.50 pm

    I think it is so incredibly important to encourage an active imagination. Growing up, it was my grandfather’s greatest wish for me, and it helped make me who I am today. I carry that forward with my son as much as I can.

  • Melissa March 17, 2017 04.10 pm

    Your daughter is so cute and those clothes are so pretty on her. I love it when kids draw and use their imaginations.

  • fullestmom March 17, 2017 05.00 pm

    We like cloud watching. My kids feel so relaxed when we go outside and look up at the sky. It is very captivating to me how kids can image the biggest things. There is no limit and I feel it’s important to exercise imagination as long as possible. Very good post.

  • Stace Werner March 17, 2017 06.55 pm

    Children are so curious – they are constantly exploring their environment.
    I also see a lot of good toys out there that support the development of creativity.

  • Kiwi March 18, 2017 12.42 am

    what a great list of ways to keep kids in an imaginative state! Kids still look in the clouds…I hope technology didnt stop them from doing that!

  • Sona Sethi March 18, 2017 02.43 am

    Absolutely awesome. I thing drawing and solving puzzles are the best way to make kids super sharp. Great article.

  • Blythe Alpern March 18, 2017 08.37 pm

    Love all of these ideas. I remember spending hours looking at the clouds for shapes. I still do that occasionally. Whenever I visit my nieces and nephew I try to inspire their creativity by doing something fun and showing them new things.

  • Roxanne March 19, 2017 08.05 am

    A great list of things to encourage imagination. A few weeks ago my kids and I were cloud gazing and watching the clouds change shape. It was such cool “in the moment” experience.

  • Amber Nelson March 21, 2017 12.49 am

    My kids all have a pretty wild imagination, so we are good in that department. It is the math skills we need to work on!

  • Tabbie April 23, 2018 03.16 pm

    I love the coloring prompts idea! That would work well for a variety of ages!

  • Jenna April 23, 2018 03.33 pm

    As a mother of 3, i know the value of imaginative play! So many great tips and ideas!!

  • Marina April 23, 2018 04.25 pm

    Will send your post to one of my best friend x

  • Kansas Bonanno April 23, 2018 06.14 pm

    We love exploring outside, we have 5 archers of land, and we border the woods and 3 fields. We go looking and exploring several times a week. My kids favorite thing to do on a hunt is see what animal tracks they can find.

  • Nakia April 23, 2018 06.55 pm

    These are some great ideas! My little ones LOVE to play make-believe outside.

  • Gladys Parker April 24, 2018 12.03 am

    Wonderful ideas. Children need to play and imagine often. Many times I just gave my kids a few objects from my purse when we were at appointments or driving and ask them what they turned these items into. They would come up with the craziest ideas but hey let them imagine.

  • Pat April 24, 2018 12.09 am

    What a great collection of tips to encourage creativity in children. I like looking for shapes in clouds.

  • kumamonjeng April 24, 2018 12.44 am

    Creativity is so important in children growing up process. The list of way to stir up children imagination are just great. Not just limit to drawing but many other forms too.

  • Thebloomsite April 24, 2018 01.42 am

    Great tips to help the little ones. Thanks for sharing

  • Adriana April 24, 2018 02.54 am

    Love these tips. I love eliminating the use of technology to enhance ones imagination

  • Raina April 24, 2018 03.36 am

    My daughter is the same age and I feel unstructured play time is so important! Thanks for sharing the solo reading tip- such a great idea. We love exploring outside together on walks. We will often collect things to bring home and make “soup” sitting outside on the steps!

  • Geraline Batarra April 24, 2018 06.01 am

    Such great tips to help our little ones to develop their skills and this tips also help in their brain development but still playtime is a must because they are still a kid.

  • Czjai Reyes-Ocampo April 24, 2018 09.20 am

    I’m all for activities that can enhance a child’s creativity and stimulate the mind. This is why I would rather see my son playing with his blocks and Legos rather than seeing him glued to the telly or his gadgets.

  • Brittney April 24, 2018 12.35 pm

    I can’t wait to see how my daughter’s imagination develops as she grows up!

  • Shruti April 24, 2018 01.02 pm

    Make believe is such a simple yet creative way to exercise their imagination.
    Solo reading takes a little nudge once in a while but develops individual thinking.
    These are all really informative, important and cool tips. Thanks.

  • Elizabeth O April 24, 2018 01.39 pm

    Finding shapes in the clouds is one of my favourite pastimes and is a really great suggestion for encouraging imaginative play. You provided some really awesome ideas in this post!

  • Vanessa Price April 24, 2018 01.41 pm

    These are all great tips! I do these with my two little ones a lot. Letting them be creative is so important. I am a big believer in creative bored time in which they are told it’s their time to think of something to do, or just sit quietly and rest. It forces them to be creative on their own and make up their own prompts, which is so excellent for their brain development.

  • Kristeena April 24, 2018 04.55 pm

    I love looking for shapes in the clouds with my little dude! Somehow he always says he sees trains haha I love it!

  • Brittany Colasuonno April 24, 2018 05.09 pm

    Imaginative play is so important! Especially now days with all of the gadgets and technology for kids. I love the idea of drawing prompts!

  • Karlyn Cruz April 24, 2018 05.37 pm

    My 7 year old is the prince of imaginative play. In fact, I think he’d rather play on his own sometimes. Probably not the best though.

  • Alexine April 24, 2018 11.32 pm

    Wow! what a great post! these ideas will surely help out those parents out there who are having trouble about to educate their kids. Imagination is one of the best way to let them understand complicated things. Great job!

  • Jennifer Prince April 25, 2018 01.23 am

    As an only child, I think I perfected this when I was a kid. Lol! But it’s definitely an important thing for kids to learn and the activities are so creative.

  • Alison Rost April 25, 2018 03.27 am

    Those are awesome ideas to spark one’s imagination. I think it’s important for kids and it’s going to be so much fun for them as well. Such a great learning experience!

  • AnnMarie John April 25, 2018 10.59 am

    One of the ways that I spark my daughter’s creativity is when I let her dress up as her favorite characters. I think it’s fun and it’s definitely going to allow her to use her imagination. I think these are great suggestions as well!

  • Megan April 25, 2018 03.00 pm

    Letting kids use their imagination is so vital! This is a great post — activities that help nurture this are perfect!

  • Evelyn, PathofPresence 🦋 April 25, 2018 08.35 pm

    I will always support anything and everything that encourages a child creativity. These are some wonderful tips! I especially love taking the time to look at the clouds and describe what I see. 👍🏼

  • Rachel April 27, 2018 07.05 pm

    Some really good tips here to encourage play. It is so important for children – I bet your tips will benefit many little ones.


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