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Posted by on in General

By Joanna Fortune, Clinical Child Psychologist & 'Blog-osity' Monthly Guest Blogger

A walk around Imaginosity, Ireland's only interactive children's museum for the under 9's is like taking a stroll around your child's imagination, this is the inner world of a child brought to life. On offer is a myriad of rich interactive experiences for children to engage in; from meeting the Eco Badger up on the roof garden, and learning about how the unique 'green' building works, to making your way up the Climber past the Wizard's Lair and the Rocket Ship to Rapunzel's Castle. Of course, Imaginosity is a wonderful and fun place for children to be and we see this in how their faces light up when they are there, but behind the fun it is clear that Imaginosity is providing children with much more, a genuinely child centred learning, educational and development opportunity!

There is a Greek saying that 'Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play' and that is what we can all benefit from in Imaginosity.

There are 3 stages of Developmental Play (Embodiment Play; Projective Play; Role Play) which is how children develop their understanding of who they are and who the people and the world around them are, that sense of learning where the "I" ends and the world begins.

In summary, Embodiment Play is the first stage (from 0-3.5/4 years) and is essential to developing a sense of trust. Babies learn to trust in a physical way, not through words. This is a very sensory stage of play and touch plays a vital role. Imaginosity has two dedicated spaces for smaller children, 'Little me' on level 2 for under 12 months and 'Tir na n'Og' on level 1 for children up to 24 months. Both spaces offer smaller visitors a sense of security and safety in these specifically designed, soft play, tactile, enclosed areas.

Projective Play (from 3.5/4-5.5 years) comes next and here we see an increased focus on stories and narrations to further explore and investigate objects, people and their general environment at a deeper level. Engage your child in play with dolls and puppets in Imaginosity's theatre space and have the dolls/puppets play through things your child has experienced in their lives i.e. sharing with others, staying in their own beds etc. Level 1 in Imaginosity contains everything a child needs to "create their story" and is wonderful to encourage projective play.

Role-Play (from 5.5-7 or even 9 years) is the final stage and is about dramatic play, which children use to re-structure/re-arrange aspects of their life events to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. There will be aspects of both Embodiment and Projective play evident in this final stage. Imaginosity's Performance area is perfect for this, as it allows and enables children to role play different characters and scenarios in a safe environment where they are in charge.

This is the seriousness of play and it is important that as parents we learn to play with our children and to become comfortable communicating with them at their developmental level, as a way of connecting with them and supporting their development.

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Posted by on in Play at home
Finished product Description of task: Make an Orange Clove Pomador
Time required: 20 minutes
Suitable for ages: 3-7 years
Level: Easy
Download instructions here
Tagged in: Play play at home
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Posted by on in Play at home

Imaginosity was very kindly invited to attend Early Childhood Ireland’s recent conference held in Dublin, where both interesting and important issues surrounding the theme of ‘Today’s Children: Tomorrow’s World’ were discussed.  The conference celebrated, commemorated and concentrated on early childhood.

We were very excited to listen to Dr Stuart Brown M.D as the Conference’s opening Key Note Speaker.  Dr Brown is a medical doctor, psychiatrist and clinical researcher, who is a major proponent of the importance of play. He founded The National Institute for Play in the U.S  http://www.nifplay.org/about_us.html ,a non-profit  organisation committed to bringing unrealised knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life through continuing research.

Irene Gunning, Early Childhood Ireland’s CEO (herself a well-known, well-respected, long-time proponent of the importance of play for children), introduced Dr Brown by saying that from the moment she first heard him speak she was mesmerised. By the end of Dr Brown’s talk I understood exactly what she meant! He was engaging, funny, thoroughly informative and bursting with enthusiasm and passion for play.

Dr Brown spoke of how what it takes to be wholly human is so centred in early childhood and how the willingness, desire and motivation to play is embedded in each of us, from the moment that we are born.  He described play as a ‘marvellous phenomenon’ and cautioned that it is not just for kids, but lasts a lifetime.

He described the types of play that humans experience and can remember so well from our own childhoods and that we can now see replicated in our own children or young family members. Dr Brown has spent some time working with National Geographic through print and television programming, and he used a wealth of fantastic, exhilarating photographs in his presentation, which wonderfully described the various types or states of play.  From wolves to polar bears, whales to apes it was easy to see the parallels between what goes on for humans and what happens in nature, where play is concerned.

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