Preschool: Imagination and Invention

Posted by Nate McCallister on March 14, 2016
Child uses cardboard wings to pretend to fly.

Look. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No. It’s a a preschooler using his imagination!

Extended periods of play that allow children to exercise their imaginations enable them to develop important approaches to learning.

Below are some examples of progress and some quick tips that you can use to help support the development of a child’s imagination and inventiveness.


Age: 3-5 Years Old
Domain: Approaches to Learning
Sub-domain: Imagination and Invention


Progress and Support

Preschoolers show progress in this area when they do the following:

  • use pretend play to explore different roles,
  • find new ways of playing or solving problems,
  • explore the world using inventiveness and imagination.

Use these quick tips to support development:

  • create time and space for children to play for extended periods,
  • provide opportunities for children to problem solve independently,
  • give hints to solving problems without giving away the answer,
  • create environments that allow for focused play in specific interest areas (blocks, dolls, or art areas for example).

At what time in the day does it work best to create space for extended play?


Resources: Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, 2005

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Author: Nate McCallister

Nate McCallister started with SonShine Learning Center in 2003 as a preschool teacher. Today, he works as the organization’s financial director and is the site director at the Luther location. He earned a bachelor’s degree in technical communication and professional writing from Metropolitan State University and studied early childhood education at St. Paul College.