Things To Do, 3: Spark Their Imagination.

storytelling mice


Even the most artistic of children will want to put down their paintbrush sometime.

Offer them a prompt (or a choice of prompts) to write a story.

This could develop in several ways.

For instance, when everyone’s applauded the story, suggest a ‘What If’ related to it. . . (What if the cat got shut in a delivery van and driven away? What if it rained that night and washed away the clues? What if aliens landed in the school playground?)

They may have What Ifs of their own.

If writing is unpopular, make it a picture story.

If your child has come up with an unexpectedly brief story outline, could they develop it by expanding each sentence into a paragraph?

This was the basis of a creative writing lesson in a class where I spent a teaching practice. One previously science-oriented eleven-year-old came back with a manuscript worthy of a practiced storyteller. (Hang on to that initial outline, by the way. It’s much harder to reduce a completed story to a synopsis for an agent. Think big!)

Make a book of it, illustrated with drawings, paintings or photographs.

If there are no crowd scenes, they could turn it into a play to act out to the family. For an only child, how about hand puppets? finger puppets? (Go on. . . join in yourself, why don’t you?) Polish it up for relatives when self-isolation ends.

pirate story book

Don’t be afraid of boredom.

Children today aren’t allowed to be bored. Toys, games, films are provided to amuse them. The concept of Quality Time, born of parental guilt, has led to generations unable to amuse themselves.

In the fifties, us kids spent hours bored stiff while unable to escape to our own devices: school assemblies, church sermons. . . On long car or train journeys, we were expected to find our own ways to occupy our minds. (We read a lot.)

I suspect that children who learn early how to deal with boredom are less likely to amuse themselves as teenagers by spraying graffiti and setting fires.

As adults too, it’s easy to lose the knack of amusing ourselves with a plethora of media vying for our attention.

Walking the dogs before work used to be my off-duty thinking time. My thoughts could roam, ideas would spark and solutions present themselves. Since retirement, dog walks include someone else and involve conversation. The walks are getting shorter too now the old girl’s stiffened up. (The dog has arthritis as well.)

There aren’t enough hours in my day to get bored… but perhaps I should be making time for boredom. With every hour accounted for, my imagination has no free time to come up with story ideas.

What do your children think about when they’re bored? Ask them.

What bores them? When are they bored?

girl thinking

What bores you?

How did you survive boredom as a child?

19 thoughts on “Things To Do, 3: Spark Their Imagination.

  1. I used to get my thinking time whilst driving sometimes 400 miles a day delivering, the radio would become an intrusion into my thoughts and i would drive in silence, apart fom the noise of the engine that is. This became so ingrained that I rarely have the radio on in the car or the odd occasions when I use the van, I am more comfortable in my own thoughts. Cycling is another opportunity to retreat into my imagination, when I am alone that is, cycling with friends is a different matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t drive a lot these days, but in the days when I was commuting from East London to Greenwich (and out to Chelmsford or down to Kent at weekends) I had a tendency to pick up points from speed cameras if I didn’t concentrate on the roads.
      I daily passed 16 speed cameras on the way to work and back, much of it on a three-lane carriageway with a 40mph limit which was relatively empty at 8am on Saturday or after an evening shift. For three years I was nudging my limit with 9 points on my licence (when three lapsed, I picked up three more almost immediately).
      Nowadays, if I’m not concentrating, I’m more likely to fall asleep.


  2. I used to drive a lot some days, before I retired sometimes 400 miles a day, this was my thinking time, I would find the radio an intrsusion into my thoughts and apart from the noise of the engine would drive in silence. During thes times I designed products getting the picture right in my mind, then once I was happy with it I made it from the photograph in my imagination. One rose arch design took about two years to get right but eventually I saw it as I wanted it and turned it into a very successful product. Other variations and products flowed from it. I drive less these days but cycle more, cycling has become my quiet thinking time when I am alone, when I am with friends converstion and banter is more important. When I drive alone now the radio is seldom on I prefer the company of my imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve reminded me of Nepal schools again Cathy where nursery and primary children have so little stimulation to their imagination. Teachers have absolutely no idea why it’s needed for brain development and just moan about having no resources like they see in western schools. They are surrounded by temples, markets, farms and animals but just wouldn’t think of going outdoors and collecting things. I’m convinced that creative thinking is extremely low across Nepal’s population.
    Personally I think I have too much of it, my mind is never still and posts are written up to mid May!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am envious. I struggle to find inspiration – although it seems to be coming easier just lately. Perhaps imagination is something that needs exercise to stop it seizing up – like arthritic joints

      Liked by 1 person

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