The Alliance for Childhood has found that many factors led the current generation of children to shove their imaginations aside. These include large amounts of time daily watching TV, video and computer games; overscheduled lives full of adult-oriented activities; loss of safe outdoor play areas; less school recess time; and academic testing and pressures.

The Alliance for Childhood has found that many factors led the current generation of children to shove their imaginations aside. These include large amounts of time daily watching TV, video and computer games; overscheduled lives full of adult-oriented activities; loss of safe outdoor play areas; less school recess time; and academic testing and pressures.

Imaginative play may be encouraged in many ways. Ted Borkan, Ph.D. and psychologist at the Playful Therapies Center in Columbus says that experimenting can be a fun way to teach your children about pretend play. "For example, you can experiment with what it would be like to be an elephant," said Borkan. "Put your arms together and extend them down, walking slowly and occasionally snorting."

Try these suggestions to encourage your child (and yourself!) to play more:
Reduce or eliminate TV and video game time. Even though kids may express boredom at first, they will soon find imaginative ways to occupy their time.

Cut back on scheduled activities for your child. Overscheduled time leaves little time for self-initiated play.

Let children help around the house with cooking, cleaning, washing, raking and digging. This kind of "work" can actually inspire more imaginative play.

Join in your child's play, but remember they are the director of the action.

Wait before turning the page of the book you're reading to your child and ask the child to help come up with several choices as to what the character might do next.

Help your child create her own story book or puppet show.

Model being goofy sometimes, too!


Try this: Build a fairy house
Building a fairy house provides hours of creative and magical play for children and adults. They are typically built outdoors, but if yard space is an issue, they can be built in a small flower pot or other garden container on a porch or patio.

Gather natural materials such as leaves, sticks, acorn tops, rocks, shells, feathers, flowers and pine cones.

Allow kids to use their imaginations to create structures and "furniture" for the fairies. For fairy house building inspiration check out www.fairyhouses.com.


Jan Myers is a freelance writer who lives in Coshocton with her husband, Alan. She is the mother of Maxx, 14 and Maggie, 9.