Playtimes: Creativity

Doctor Rebekah Willett explores how children bring imaginative narratives and language into their games such as running around games, socio-dramatic play, fantasy play and singing and dancing games. She also discusses how an adult’s perception of what is ‘imaginative’ may exclude games that draw on children’s creativity such as chaotic and phantasmagorical play.

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Dr Rebekah Willett:

We see creative and imaginative play running across all nine categories on the website. Most obvious is in the category pretend play, where we see sociodramatic play, fantasy based play and all kinds of acting, acting out being a football commentator, for example, or acting out spoofs of comedy shows. But other areas of the website also have creative and imaginative play, like the singing and dancing category, where children make up dance routines or adapt songs. And even running around games often involve adding new characters or new narratives in a traditional game, such as ‘Stuck in the Mud’. Children use language creatively in a variety of kinds of play. Role play, for example, involves children acting out different characters, different people, but games with high verbal content, like jokes, rhymes, clapping games, these all involve children’s play with language. So for example, children substitute words, they make up new punch lines, they make up new rhymes. Children talk about their play as imaginative. When we’ve talked to children they tell us that they play imaginatively and creatively, and perhaps this is to please adults who like to think of children as original and inventive. But it’s important for adults to consider how this might exclude particular forms of imaginative play, forms that might be more imitative, forms that might be more chaotic or phantasmagoric. These kinds of forms might be excluded if we just think of imaginative play as original and inventive. But in any case, children say that they do constantly add new things in their games and they’re constantly creating new games. And in fact one child said, “Well, why would you want to play the same old game again and again when you can simply add something new and make it more interesting?”

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