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Learning Through Play: Encourage your Grandkid’s Imagination

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As a Grandparent, you can encourage your Grandkids’ imagination.  Learning through play, especially unstructured play with you is not only good for the imagination but will add to the connection and bond that you already share.

Encourage Kids Imagination

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Albert Einstein:   “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Learning Through Play:  Use your Imagination

Imagination helps children develop critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving. 

Experimenting with new ideas, finding new ways to do things, thinking outside the box, and analyzing outcomes foster social development, increase confidence and build their understanding of the world.

As a Grandparent, you can encourage your Grandkids’ imagination and help boost their creativity. 

Learning through play, especially unstructured play with you is not only good for the imagination but will add to the connection and bond that you already share.

Here are some ways kids can learn through play and you can encourage their imagination:


Children are naturally curious and full of questions. 

Listen carefully to what they are saying. 

Let them explore ideas with you, work out problems with you and use their imagination to tell stories.

Listening is the first step in knowing your Grandchild better, understanding their concerns and views, and showing them their opinions have value. 

Listening closely shows respect and can lead to trust and a stronger connection between you.

Turn off the TV

Television is a distraction that stifles the imagination. 

There is no need to use the brain when everything is played out right there on the screen. 

Turn off the television and find something to do using your own ingenuity.

Go Places

Encourage your Grandkid’s imagination by going to the park, the beach, for a walk, to a museum, or to the zoo

A new environment can stimulate new ideas and viewpoints. Talk about what you see, find rocks, sticks, or a pretty leaf for your next craft project. 

Talk about what the penguins must be thinking about the cold water. 

Nurture your kid’s imagination by showing them new places in the world.

Tell Stories

Storytelling is one of the best ways to use imagination. 

Grandchildren love to hear stories about things their parents did as children. 

My Grandkids were delighted knowing that the huge box of Legos they were playing with at my house actually belonged to their Dad and Uncle. 

We talked about the things Daddy built with the Legos. 

It was fun for them to imagine their Daddy as a little boy.

Bedtime is a great time to tell stories. 

Start the story, then let your Grandkids make up the ending. 

Take turns adding parts to the story, or ask questions like “What do you think happened next?”. 

Let them use their imaginations to help you tell the story.

What if

Try building your kid’s imagination with the “What If” game. 

“What if you opened the mailbox and butterflies flew out?” 

“What if you raced that car around the corner too fast?” or “What if the moon really was made of cheese?” 

Ask the question, let them provide an answer.  Then let them make up their own questions for you.

This is a great game to play in the car. 

The situation does not have to be fictional, and the questions can be “Where”, “When” and “How” as well as “What if”.  “Where is that bus or train going?”  “Where do you think that road leads?” 

You get the idea.  Encourage creativity and build a kid’s imagination by asking questions.

Learning through Pretend Play

Pretend play or imaginative play is a vital component of child development.  Psychology Today says “An important benefit of early pretend play may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and, ultimately, creativity”. 

They go on to cite research that substantiates this belief.

Encourage children to write and dramatize their own play, be the mother, teacher, or daddy, be an animal, or the vet. 

Toy animals, cars, Barbie dolls, play food, and clothes for dress-up give kids an outlet for pretend play.

Use your imagination. Help the Grands use theirs! Click to Tweet
Learning through play. Encourage imagination.

Learning through Creative Play

Cats and kids both love an empty box. 

Provide supplies to enable your Grandkids to draw, cut, color, and glue.  PlayDough, slime, and bubbles provide hours of creative play using the imagination. 

Make instruments with simple items from the kitchen:  corn in a Tupperware dish or a spoon on a pan. 

Sand, blocks, and Legos are also useful for learning through creative play.

Instead of drawing in a coloring book, let them color their own pictures. 

Each of these A-Z posts has a corresponding coloring page with words, allowing kids to create their own pictures.

Download your Coloring Page of “I” Words


Playing games that require imagination is a fun way to be creative. 

My Grands like to play “What animal am I?”. 

I kept them one morning before school and we took turns being a bunny, a cat, or a dog. 

It was fun trying to guess the animal – without making any sounds. There was a lot of laughing going on that morning! 

Or try telling stories and using imagination while playing board games.

Help them answer their own questions

Your Grandkids can use their imagination to solve their own problems. 

Ask them “what do YOU think would happen if you did….” or “If you had that problem, what would you do?”. 

Using logic and creativity and maybe a little guidance, they will gain confidence in their own ability to find an answer.

Ask for their help

When you have your own problem to solve, ask for their help. 

“All of these toys need to fit back into the toybox.  How can we make that happen?”. 

“We need a centerpiece for the table.  Can you create something for me?”. 

Children love to help. 

Encourage them to use their imagination to help you.

Encourage Your Grandkid’s Imagination

Help your Grandchildren by finding activities that stir their imagination and encourage their learning through play. 

Including one or two of these activities when you spend time together is a great way to strengthen your bond with them, as well as stimulate their thinking.

What fun, creative things do you do with your Grands?  Tell me in the comments below.

Join our tribe of Grandparents for more great ideas directly to your inbox.

Until next time,

Keep Passing Down the Love.

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If you missed the previous posts in the #AtoZChallenge series, click here for the complete list.

Other posts you may enjoy:

8 Pearls of Wisdom from the Garden

9 Awesome Ways Having Grandkids Keeps You Young

10 Top Tips for a New Grandma

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Friday 9th of October 2020

Love this post and the ideas! We are on a similar mission. In fact, we are focusing on helping kids imagination and creativity to help them become the best versions of themselves. Would love to collaborate for the same cause, Kimberly!

Best ZeeZee

Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas

Tuesday 10th of April 2018

When my kids were little I admit I didn't have the patience to play many (if any) imagination games. Step into the breach my mother-in-law! She played the MOST AMAZING imagination games with them. She absolutely loves history so many of the games had an historical setting. My kids learnt so much from her, while thoroughly enjoying the game as well. Thank-you Mum-in-law, me and my kids owe you a lot!


Tuesday 10th of April 2018

I really believe that's where Grandmas can be useful: helping fill the spaces, providing benefits not in place of, but in addition to, the parents. Sounds like your kids were very lucky to have an amazing Grandmother! P.S. I love your name!


Tuesday 10th of April 2018

Our little granddaughter isn't quite two so we're a bit limited on games we can play, but for her it's all about discovery and wonder - I just love that. I was also told that it's a great idea to give experiences rather than toys for presents, so for her 2nd birthday we're buying her parents a day pass to the aquarium - that should prove more entertaining and imaginative than any toy we could come up with.

Leanne | I for If Opportunity….


Tuesday 10th of April 2018

We've been doing "experience" gifts, too. Two is a fun age where they are just starting to use their imagination. The fun is just beginning.

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