One of my children’s favourite things to do is to imagine that they are the characters in the stories we read. When learning about ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, I would often find them designating someone (or a doll or action figure) to be god or goddess of this or that. One day, they reenacted the Exodus using all of their dolls (the Israelites were strangely all female). Often, they are living in pioneer days and my coffee table becomes their covered wagon. Sometimes they become talking animals.
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I love watching my children play! And while I love to see them running, building, and playing board games, I especially love observing them lost in a fantasy world of imaginative play.
One thing in particular that warms my heart about this particular type of play is that it enables my children to become a part of the stories they love. And it is so encouraging to me to see how all the beautiful stories they hear or read are feeding their imaginations, and that the stories are making an impact in their lives long after the final chapter is read.
Here is my list of my recommendations for toys that bring stories to life through play:
Lincoln Logs are a great building toy, but they are also great for imagining yourself into pioneer days. My kids were obsessed with building and playing Little House in the Big Woods after we enjoyed the story together.
My girls absolutely LOVE paper dolls. A few years ago I found these free printable history themed dolls, and my girls were hooked. There are so many wonderful options available! They loved the Little House dolls pictured on the right, but I was also pleased to discover that Dover publishes a Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and a set of other Storybook Characters.
These adorable animal characters are available as bunnies, cats, mice, chipmunks and more, including the adorable little hedgehogs pictured here. They are great for entering in to the magical world of Beatrix Potter or Brambly Hedge!
My oldest was given a beautiful American Girl doll who came with her very own story, but dolls of all kinds are great for experiencing stories through play. Maplelea has this wonderful Anne of Green Gables Outfit that fits their own or any 18 inch doll. Simple rag dolls are perfect for playing Mary & Laura.
This is my favourite type of play! I love how my kids become fully immersed in their storybook world by dressing up and actually being the characters themselves! While there are so many commercial costumes available, they are totally unnecessary — often costumes can be thrown together using scarves, old sheets, aprons, or other things you already have. A cardboard sword is sufficient for slaying imaginary dragons!