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  #1  
Old 02-21-2013, 06:41 AM
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Default Child with No Imagination

So, I've had a child for almost 3 yrs who is almost 4. I've noticed this child does not know how to play with toys nor is interested in playing with them. This child has NO imagination at all. At first I thought maybe the child was bored but I rotate toys every 2 weeks... right now there is 3 little people sets out, books (always but they get rotated to new ones too), TONS of Little People accessories, waffle blocks, duplo, hot wheels, trains, balls, and Barbies that are out now. Plus, we do Art and Playdoh at the table (which this child has NO interest in either). I've noticed the child will pick a toy that makes noise and will lay next it it and push the SAME button OVER and OVER (I only have 2 toys out that make noise, I don't replace batteries once gone)! Or the child will try and do flips, put feet in the air, put feet on my toys..etc. I tell this child to GO PLAY 3,000 + times a day. The ONLY thing the child likes is to read books. I'm at a loss... I've tried to get the imagination moving by trying to have open ended toys and open ended art. Oh, and I've tried asking the child to "build me this", "how would you do this". I've ask the parents and they've told me that they noticed the same thing. I also get down and play with the children but I truly believe that children need to learn to be able to play by themselves too.

Have you've ever had a child that does not know how to play nor has an imagination?? How do you help them?? Do you always play with them??
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:05 AM
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Little guy I had here last year was a lot like that. He was 4 1/2. Since he was the oldest son of 4 children, he spent a lot of time "helping" dad at home. Cutting wood, working in the shed, etc. He really didn't know what to do with himself when things weren't adult-directed. He also had about 30 tantrums a day..ok...maybe 5 or 6, but that was 5 or 6 too many. Pretty much-the word "no" = hissy fit. arggg...

We've all talked here about children who get too much electronic time at home..TV, video games, etc. They often don't know what to do with themselves when they don't have entertainment spoon fed.

The only thing you can do is keep trying to encourage him, model some play, and hope it rubs off. Encourage the parents to remove any electronics for a few years (you can encourage, but you can't make him). Don't get too frustrated with him, though. If he has no behavioral problems, then just give him room to be "him". Just don't let him expect YOU to entertain him. If kids demand that, I usually say something like "God gave you your own brain so that you can use it"...(nicely, of course).

If he loves books, that;s one good sign. Maybe you could ask him to expand the stories he reads. "What do you think happened after the book was over?' or TELL as story (without a book), and ask the children to draw what they THINK someone in the story looked like.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:05 AM
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I'm finding more and more in recent years that children don't know how to play. It's very sad and I cannot relate on any kind of level. I NEVER once as a child had to be told to "go and play"!
We made every household object into a toy of some kind - we cherished our true toys - and we played... all day long, indoors and out. I just can't imagine being a child in a room full of toys like these kids are and sitting there not knowing what to do!
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:14 AM
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http://daycare.com/forum/showthread.php?t=59757

Hopefully that will take you to the post I did on toys.

I actually have attended a few classes now on HOW to engage kids into play and have them use their imaginations. I am finding it sad we are now having to teach the kids this though and they can't do it on their own.

The weird thing though is this child has been with you for sooooo long. Could their be developmental delays?
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:16 AM
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I've had children take some TIME to become engaged in imaginative play (months...), but the only child who is consistently like what you describe was just diagnosed with Autism.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by littlemissmuffet View Post
I'm finding more and more in recent years that children don't know how to play. It's very sad and I cannot relate on any kind of level. I NEVER once as a child had to be told to "go and play"!
We made every household object into a toy of some kind - we cherished our true toys - and we played... all day long, indoors and out. I just can't imagine being a child in a room full of toys like these kids are and sitting there not knowing what to do!
I remember saying "Can we go play now?"

I agree....the imagination and creativity kids once had no longer seems to exist.

I blame a majority of it on electronics and the general behavior of families now days.

With electronics, there is constantly little windows that pop up prompting the user to know exactly what to do or what comes next. There is instant gratification and immediate results. Movies on demand, cartoons 24/7, tv's in the bedroom, the kitchen, the livingroom, the back seat of the mini-van, on their handhed devices.

ALL of that IMHO, robs children f any creativity and imagination.

Families now days are on the go continuously. Years ago families went to stores maybe once a week to get supplies/food. Families now make and average of 4 car trips per day to various activities and stores.

Kids spend a major chunk of time in the car going somewhere. Kids are in organized activities and sports at 2 and 3 yrs old.

Creativity, imagination and self-responsibility are things I really really miss seeing with this generation.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:22 AM
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Knowing how to play in different ways is a developmental skill. I'd take it all the way back to infant play and work your way up to see where exactly he's at.

Literally, start with one or two rattles, or a floor activity mat. Then introduce blocks. Work your way up through snap rings and stacking toys. It may be that he doesn't grasp that toys are interactive so the simpler the concept the better. Only once you see improvement would you add in toys that require more cognitive ability and manipulation. If he moves through what you offer him quickly then you know it's just a lack of individual inspiration. He could just be very left brained. Give him a ball and ask him how many things he can think of to do with it (throw, roll, bounce, balance figures on, play catch with a friend, pretend it's a porcupine etc), or a blanket (turn it into a boat, a fort, a cape, pretend to be a ghost etc). Don't demonstrate for him or suggest any of your ideas first, give him an opportunity to come up with as many alternatives as he can.

You can build on that brain storming in the future. If you play with your words a bit it might help. Instead of suggesting go play maybe ask him to look around the room and pick out an item he sees that he could do many different things with. Challenge him to come up with as many ideas as he can.

If he can't however seem to understand that moving his hand makes the rattle sound then I'd strongly suggest the parents get him a developmental evaluation. If he's already nearly 4 he's got some profound delays and needs intervention immediately.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:41 AM
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I have a kid similar to that. He's only been here a couple months and he's 5. I think he would be in HEAVEN with my set up, but since he has an older brother who's 10 he doesn't ever seem to want to 'play'. He talks about sports and video games a lot and always wants to do 'projects' (which I love, and we do a lot), but I mean we wrap up one thing or are finishing up and he will say "I want to do a different project". When I tell him that's not an option and we need to find something else to do right now he will just wander around bored. FINALLY this morning we made a house out of blocks and him and dcd filled paper bags with play food and for the first time since he's been here I saw him participate in imaginative play Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement from the other kids, and helpful suggestions and support from us as providers. Wish you a lot of luck!
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Brooksie View Post
I have a kid similar to that. He's only been here a couple months and he's 5. I think he would be in HEAVEN with my set up, but since he has an older brother who's 10 he doesn't ever seem to want to 'play'. He talks about sports and video games a lot and always wants to do 'projects' (which I love, and we do a lot), but I mean we wrap up one thing or are finishing up and he will say "I want to do a different project". When I tell him that's not an option and we need to find something else to do right now he will just wander around bored. FINALLY this morning we made a house out of blocks and him and dcd filled paper bags with play food and for the first time since he's been here I saw him participate in imaginative play Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement from the other kids, and helpful suggestions and support from us as providers. Wish you a lot of luck!
Can I make a suggestion? Maybe you already have it, but why not start a "project center"? Save small boxes, paper rolls, scraps of wrapping paper, greeting cards, egg cartons, small sticks and rocks, googly eyes, and anything else you can think of. Add scissors, tape, a stapler, duct tape, and glue sticks. Then, when he says "I want to do a project", you can say "oh...go for it". Afterwards, ask him to describe what he's made, and write it down for him, along with his name and the date.

I wish I had some 4's and 5's. I've seen one build a "boat", then the next one gets into it, and pretty soon they're asking if they can float them in the sink.

Only thing is, if you have little ones, you have to be able to keep them OUT of that area to keep them safe.

I've also read a little bit about a technique called a "provocation" (not sexual...lol), where an adult sets out some new materials, and then, without saying anything, see's what the kids do with them. Like, real clay, twigs, rocks, etc. If you're interested, I'll see if I can find you some links. It's mostly and earth-mama type thing, which I am not, but it's cool.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
I've also read a little bit about a technique called a "provocation" (not sexual...lol), where an adult sets out some new materials, and then, without saying anything, see's what the kids do with them. Like, real clay, twigs, rocks, etc. If you're interested, I'll see if I can find you some links. It's mostly and earth-mama type thing, which I am not, but it's cool.
Heidi, that sounds amazing! If you are able to find those links, they'd be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:11 AM
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as a parent of a computer addicted kid, he has the most craziest imagination. I think it depends on what as a family people do at home. You can't blame electronics or not going outside, it what the parents do with their children.

I had a dcg who didn't know how to play because her mom played with her all day and did all the imagination for her. So when she was left with a bunch of kids she had no idea what to do--she was 5 yrs old. So thats five yrs of someone else doing the job.

i had dcb who didn't know how to do art, you had to tell him and direct him. And if someone colored the sky orange he would tell them they are wrong. His mother entertained him all day, never giving him a chance to sit and think for himself.

I'm finding more and more that the reason kids have no imagination is because they are too busy being small adults. Now they go to school early, they don't do art, they are being forced to deal with real life issues that children shouldn't have to deal with, its so sad.

I don't how to help you, my kids have always had awesome imaginations. The other day, my ds (age 10) stayed up to 11pm building a gumball machine out of lego's. He plays with his sisters all the time (he usually ends up being a hamster) even outside, they make up crazy games in the pool and play all summer long.

ask the dcb what does he do at home, ask mom and dad. Does he spend time in his room, does he watch tv, do his parents interact with him. Maybe he doesn't have toys or art supplies that he can be imaginative with so maybe thats why he doesn't know how to play with the stuff.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:13 AM
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I have a boy who just turned 4 last week who does the same thing...absolutely no imagination.

He wants to roll all around, run and just fall onto the floor (I do not allow running and keep having to remind him he CANNOT be falling around like that because if someone else happened to walk behind him, he would fall right on top of them).

I have oodles of toys, yet he will walk completely around the room in circles just looking at them. He won't take anything down and play with it.

I rotate toys and although I have a lot, I don't feel they're so many that he's overwelmed.

He comes each day talking about his 'fighting' games he has at home and he plays video games long after his mom goes to sleep (so he's up half the night as well and comes here wanting to go to sleep...nope, not till nap time)

I don't allow any electronics in my daycare because as educational as a lot of them are, I'd rather do things the old fashioned way and use the imagination.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
Can I make a suggestion? Maybe you already have it, but why not start a "project center"? Save small boxes, paper rolls, scraps of wrapping paper, greeting cards, egg cartons, small sticks and rocks, googly eyes, and anything else you can think of. Add scissors, tape, a stapler, duct tape, and glue sticks. Then, when he says "I want to do a project", you can say "oh...go for it". Afterwards, ask him to describe what he's made, and write it down for him, along with his name and the date.

I wish I had some 4's and 5's. I've seen one build a "boat", then the next one gets into it, and pretty soon they're asking if they can float them in the sink.

Only thing is, if you have little ones, you have to be able to keep them OUT of that area to keep them safe.

I've also read a little bit about a technique called a "provocation" (not sexual...lol), where an adult sets out some new materials, and then, without saying anything, see's what the kids do with them. Like, real clay, twigs, rocks, etc. If you're interested, I'll see if I can find you some links. It's mostly and earth-mama type thing, which I am not, but it's cool.
I would totally have a project center like that if I didn't mostly have kids under 3. It would just be way too difficult to keep them from dumping everything out. I do very frequently get out the markers or crayons and let them use their imaginations and show off their creativity (seriously like 3 times or more a day)

Would be interested in seeing that link for sure
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:06 PM
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I would totally have a project center like that if I didn't mostly have kids under 3. It would just be way too difficult to keep them from dumping everything out. I do very frequently get out the markers or crayons and let them use their imaginations and show off their creativity (seriously like 3 times or more a day)

Would be interested in seeing that link for sure
Here's one...

http://pinterest.com/earlylearning4/...-provocations/

Is there a way you can make a "center" in a corner using a super-gate or low shelves that only the 3+ year olds are allowed in? I don't know your set up, but that might be an option, if you have the space.

Edited to add: I"Oh Dang! I just looked at that link...the ideas! Wow! Can't stop...looking....!"
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
Can I make a suggestion? Maybe you already have it, but why not start a "project center"? Save small boxes, paper rolls, scraps of wrapping paper, greeting cards, egg cartons, small sticks and rocks, googly eyes, and anything else you can think of. Add scissors, tape, a stapler, duct tape, and glue sticks. Then, when he says "I want to do a project", you can say "oh...go for it". Afterwards, ask him to describe what he's made, and write it down for him, along with his name and the date.


I've also read a little bit about a technique called a "provocation" (not sexual...lol), where an adult sets out some new materials, and then, without saying anything, see's what the kids do with them. Like, real clay, twigs, rocks, etc. If you're interested, I'll see if I can find you some links. It's mostly and earth-mama type thing, which I am not, but it's cool.
I love your "project center" idea - I saw this set-up in a kindergarten classroom once as one of their centers ... every random craft supply you could think of and then they could sit there and create whatever they wanted. Then they either drew a picture or wrote (if they were able to) a description of what it was.

And my daughter's preschool teacher just did the "provocation" thing with her class the other day - she had a bunch of those clear, colored plastc shot glasses and put them out on the tables in their small groups. She didn't tell them what they were or what to do with them. She just told them they could touch them (so they weren't afraid of not following directions and touching when not supposed to). And she said she watched them build castles or houses, sort them into colors groups, make patterns, pretend to pour and drink out of them. Very cool.

ETA: Regarding the "project center" storage and keeping it away from little hands, it could be all stored in a large rubbermaid tub and only brought out while the younger ones are napping or eating a snack.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:50 PM
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Here's one...

http://pinterest.com/earlylearning4/...-provocations/

Edited to add: I"Oh Dang! I just looked at that link...the ideas! Wow! Can't stop...looking....!"
OMG I LOVE IT!!!!! I'll be on this link all night!!
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:11 PM
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There is also a technique called video modeling or play scenario training. I used to use it frequently in my work with children with autism. It can require some work on your part ~ well, a lot of work intially. It is fascinating the results you can see with it! I actually did a thesis on it in grad school.

I will tell you about the play scenario training. THe best way to explain it is with an example. For this one, I will use the play kitchen. You need to get a camera, and get ready to take and print some photos. Try to get an older child to help you.

Take a picture of the kitchen. Then, in sequence, take pictures of a child playing with the kitchen in an imaginary play sequence (say, cooking dinner). Once that sequence is photographed, start taking photos of a different play scenario, using the same toys.

Once the photos are done, you intorduce them to the child and have the child imitate what he is seeing in the pictures. Once one scenario is mastered, you move on toe the next.

The video modeling is done basically the same way.

The hope is that ultimately, you can fade off of the pictures/videos, and the child will begin to incorporate the learned play sequences into independent play.

Again, labor intensive, but effective.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:19 PM
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OMG I LOVE IT!!!!! I'll be on this link all night!!
Oh, me too!!! Thanks for posting!!!!!!!
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:30 AM
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I'm glad I found this thread! Currently I'm really struggling with a 4 year old that has no idea how to play or use her imagination. I tried modeling play and imaginative activities but she still doesn't quite get it. For example she says she wants to play pretend but then the story is exactly what we are doing at that moment (ie "lets pretend you're the teacher, I'm the big kid, the babies are babies and DCB is a boy and we're walking to the park" as we are walking to the park), there is no actual imagination play. She follows me around all day wanting to be entertained and it's driving me crazy!

This DCG has 2 older sisters (she's 4 they're 6 and 7) but bounces back and forth between DCD and DCM weekly. Siblings live exclusively with DCM

Quote:
Originally Posted by bunnyslippers View Post
There is also a technique called video modeling or play scenario training. I used to use it frequently in my work with children with autism. It can require some work on your part ~ well, a lot of work intially. It is fascinating the results you can see with it! I actually did a thesis on it in grad school.

I will tell you about the play scenario training. THe best way to explain it is with an example. For this one, I will use the play kitchen. You need to get a camera, and get ready to take and print some photos. Try to get an older child to help you.

Take a picture of the kitchen. Then, in sequence, take pictures of a child playing with the kitchen in an imaginary play sequence (say, cooking dinner). Once that sequence is photographed, start taking photos of a different play scenario, using the same toys.

Once the photos are done, you intorduce them to the child and have the child imitate what he is seeing in the pictures. Once one scenario is mastered, you move on toe the next.

The video modeling is done basically the same way.

The hope is that ultimately, you can fade off of the pictures/videos, and the child will begin to incorporate the learned play sequences into independent play.

Again, labor intensive, but effective.
I'll have to try this and the other activities listed.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:37 AM
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AH! Awesome!! This is just the kind of thing I've been doing with my school and I've been needing more ideas!! Thank you! Getting a pinterest account now!!
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:36 PM
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I feel the same way!

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Originally Posted by littlemissmuffet View Post
I'm finding more and more in recent years that children don't know how to play. It's very sad and I cannot relate on any kind of level. I NEVER once as a child had to be told to "go and play"!
We made every household object into a toy of some kind - we cherished our true toys - and we played... all day long, indoors and out. I just can't imagine being a child in a room full of toys like these kids are and sitting there not knowing what to do!

Last edited by Blackcat31; 09-21-2019 at 01:42 PM.
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