Albert Einstein said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”.

For any of you who follow me on Facebook and get a chance to hear some of the stories and scenarios my kids come up with, you can see they have some pretty great imaginations.

Literally just yesterday this scenario took place:

The kids were playing quietly then I hear Miss 4 say:

“Let’s give mumma a heart attack”

Her twin brother laughs and says “That’s a great idea!”

I want to see where this goes so I pretend to keep reading…

Then I hear a huge ROAR and see that they each have a mask on and think it’s going to give me a heart attack when I see the scary dinosaur and tiger

The thing is, an imagination is a bit like a muscle; the more we use it, the stronger it becomes

In order to encourage my children’s imagination I decided to put together a Masks Invitation to Play Table.

I included some pre-made felt animal masks as well as some masks that they could decorate themselves


Having a variety on offer allows your children to choose a favourite, or act out different scanarios

Using a divided tray was helpful to compartmentalise different objects for decoration

I offered the shaped butterfly masks, along with some basic flat animal shapes. Offering choices helps children develop the skills required to make decisions







Each child had a different initial approach. Mr 4 was very excited about trying on the masks. Miss 4 was excited about adding bling!


Decorating masks provided them with an opportunity to work on their imagination and creativity, as well as practise many other developmental skills, like:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Scissor skills
  • Crossing the midline
  • Hand strength
  • Grading (knowing how much force to use)
  • Executive function
  • Motor planning
  • Bi-lateral coordination


Using textas/markers helps with developing pencil grip. It’s ok if they are not gripping the pencil the correct way when they are younger. It is about offering opportunities to keep working at it

Squeezing glue is a great developmental activity. There are both gross and fine motor skills used. It helps them develop hand strength which will be required for writing, and through practise they learn about grading – how much force do they need to apply

Technically I could have gotten away without adding scissors into the mix, but the more practise they get, the better they will become. My two have been using scissors since they were about 20 months old. One is confident, while the other still has emerging skills. This is a skill that takes time and a number of opportunities to master





One of the things I like about this Invitation to Play table is it’s so open ended. The number of ways they can play and interact is only limited to their imagination.

Initially this was the completed mask. Later on in the week Mr 4 decided to add to his design. I love that it evolved over time

One morning my sister-in-law came over and got roped into making a mask too. Her mask became one of their favourites. It just goes to show that you are never too old to join in the fun!












There are multiple benefits to young children to engage in imaginative play. It forms a big part of how they understand the world around them.

  • Children can be very astute observers.
  • They then integrate that knowledge by acting it out.
  • Imaginative play is fantastic for socio-emotional learning.
  • It helps children with problem solving.
  • It helps them further develop their language and communication skills.
  • It can offer some insight into the way they think.
  • It enhances motor skills and motor planning as pretend play is often very physical in nature.



For further information and ideas about dramatic and pretend play you might like to check out The Importance of Pretend Play an article written by Bright Horizons

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