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Outdoor Play: a Great Way for Kids to get Outside and using Their Imagination
"Summer is a wonderful time of year when children can enjoy lots of fresh air and outdoor play. There is certainly no shortage of excellent activities, toys and accessories to entertain and inspire children of all ages." Some of the favorite...
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Pretend Play and Dress Up Encourages Imaginative Play

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A childís imagination is something to be encouraged and treasured. Young children learn many skills through imagination, from independent play, interactive play, language and cognitive skills to name a few. Pretend play and dress up are wonderful ways to allow your child to dream and act out all sorts of fun adventures.

There are a wide variety of excellent toys available to enhance their imaginative experiences some of which include; cooking and baking toys, dress-up costumes, gardening toys, housekeeping toys, money and banking sets, spy gadgetry toys, tools and puppets.

Your child probably watches you preparing and cooking meals everyday. There are many cooking and baking toys available that allow your child to have hours of entertainment. Some of the wonderful toys manufactured are; picnic baskets (complete with play bread, cheese, lettuce, hot dog and bun, ketchup, corn on the cob etc.), bakery sets, plastic food sets, a wide variety of tea pot sets, pots and pans, dinnerware sets (complete with plates, utensils, bowls and cups) and coffee sets. Itís easy for your child to set up their own little imaginary kitchen with ovens that actually bake cookies, working mini refrigerators, plastic refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, barbecueís and toasters. Little shopping markets complete with plastic store items and cash registers can be purchased, along with gum ball machines and sno-cone machines, the list really is endless.

Dress up play is a favorite among all ages of children, whether itís dressing up in dadís baseball uniform or having fun with momís closet. There is a great variety of all sorts of different types of costumes, masks and accessories for children to select from. Costumes come in designs such as fireman and police uniforms, doctor and veterinarian uniforms, engineer suits, magic hats with cape and gloves, dresses, waitress outfits, cherubs, devils, witches, ballerina and popular character suits with capes and muscle chests to name a few. Great accessories such as crowns, tiara sets, ninja swords, light sabers, cowboy hats, purses complete with keys and cell phones, doctor and medical kits and magic kits can be found. Dress up play allows your child to use their imagination in a fun way through role play and acting out adventures.

For all the young outdoor landscaping enthusiasts there are wonderful gardening tools and accessories available. Little wheelbarrows are made in plastic and metal designs (tiny metal designs look and work as well as the adult counterparts), both helpful at removing dirt, weeds and gravel around the yard. Metal and plastic gardening pails, watering cans, mini gardening sets (complete with mini rake, shovel and trowels), gardening aprons, gardening totes with seeds (mini rake, shovel, trowel and pail), gardening rakes, shovels and gardening gloves can also be purchased. Other adorable gardening sets include planters, seeds and tiny fairy cottages ready for planting around.

Probably the only time your child will enjoy housekeeping is when they are young. Most children seem to love helping out mom or dad with cleaning and simple household chores. With this said youíll find many housekeeping toys to keep your child busy and entertained for hours on end. Vacuums, cleaning sets (complete with broom, mops, gloves and pails), talking irons and ironing boards, working sewing machines and clothes washers are a few of the items to be found.

An encouraging and fun way to help children understand early on how money works is to have them play with money and banking toys and games. There are a variety of cash registers available complete with play money, fake credit cards, price scanners, price check microphones and readouts offering learning opportunities for several skills from motor skills, mathematical skills and cognitive skills.

Today there are more spy gadgetry toys available than ever before. There are spy listeners (allowing children to listen in on other rooms or to use as stethoscopes), detective sets, mini keyboard transmitters allowing children to send text messages to each other, spy goggles, motion detector sets with infrared sensors, spy cameras available in sunglasses or wristband styles (complete with real film) and walkie talkies. Spy pens come with a variety of options from activated motion alarms, flashlights and magnifying glasses. These toys not only offer hours of entertainment but toys such as the motion detectors and infrared sensors teach children basic electronic skills.

Kids love to do things around the house just like dad or mom, especially anything to do with tools. Complete tool sets for children are available with tool belts, tool chests and tool boxes. Any tool imaginable from saws, levels, planers, wrenches, screw drivers, drills and hammers can be found. Workshops (complete with bins to store tools) with work horses and work benches can provide the base for all your childís building adventures. And for when your child ventures outdoors to do some work there are mini working wheelbarrows, weed trimmers, lawnmowers, rakes, shovels, hoes, chain saws (with sound effects) and leaf blowers to complete the job. Of course youíll want to be sure they always wear their hard hat.

Lastly, another popular part of pretend play is the use of puppets. Puppets can be found in hand puppet, finger puppet, bath puppet, baby puppet, pop-up and marionette designs. Along with puppets there are puppets accessories and wonderful puppet theaters to add to the fun. There is no end to the available puppet designs from cartoon characters, fantasy (fairies, wizards), people and animals (aquatic, birds, bugs, dinosaurs, dogs, farm animals, fish and frogs to name only a few). You and your child can either make a puppet theater or purchase one of the many puppet theaters offered from tabletop theaters, floor standing, doorway and marionette theaters. Pop-up puppets are a fun way to play peek-a-boo with a child or hide and seek. Puppets are a great way to interact and have imaginative play with your child.

Imaginative play is an important part of play. Role playing and dress up allow children to experiment with the different roles of the people they observe. The toys and accessories that surround your child will let them identify with different characters and try out various domestic roles. Imaginary play helps children to adjust more easily to the challenges of our everyday world. Valerie Giles owns and operates Toys-4-Kids; Educate your child through play. Toys-4-kids is a web site full of resource information and online toy stores. Purchase the right educational toys for every child throughout their growing years. The site focuses on many categories of toys from baby toys to outdoor toys and bikes for kids, as well as Barbie Collectibles. http://www.toys-4-kids.com

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