Last year at about this time, I met Jen Schlumberger, Owner of Hollywood Birthdays http://www.hollywood-birthdays.com/ and incredible lady with a great deal of passion for education and drama. Putting together her Bachelor of Education and Television Production degree, she encourages children to think creatively while having a ton of fun. I enlisted Jen’s creative services as I feel that children aren’t encouraged to actively develop their imaginations. Many schools do not include drama in their curriculum or in their extra-curricular activities. Sadly, creative writing is becoming a lost art that isn’t developed or encouraged. Jen came to our house with her huge suitcase of dress up costumes and her incredible imagination to help a group of 12 children create their own movie. Dreamed up by the children and filmed by Jen, the toys from Toy Story challenged the grinch to save Christmas. The children were the actors all dressed up in their costumes as well as the authors of the story. Jen simply guided them through the story. She filmed and then edited the creation. A few weeks after the activity, Jen sent copies of the finished movie for the children to screen over and over again. They were the stars of the show.
The children often talk about their experience with Jen – how much they enjoyed being in the movie. The experience left them feeling empowered to dream, create and bring to life what they are thinking.
I asked Jen for her thoughts on why children’s imaginations need to be developed.
“I have always had an active imagination, and growing up as an only child – I was constantly relying on my creativity to battle boredom. I remember spending endless hours playing with my toys as they climbed mountains (aka the stones around our fireplace) or riding in a space shuttle (our sectional sofa). Although I had many toys (yes, only children stereotypes are true) my favourite things to play with were things I made or created. Cardboard boxes are every child’s best friend! Who doesn’t love cutting out windows and doors, and using tissue paper to make homemade curtains?!? Or what about forts in the back yard? Sure you can go to Canadian Tire and buy a plastic toy-house ready to go, but what fun is that?
It’s all about getting your hands dirty and your imagination fired up. “What would be a good roof? Surely this leftover piece of plywood from Dad’s garage would do! And if we tie these branches together with twine, they’d make great walls.” And after hours upon hours of hard work, you can stand back and look at your masterpiece: a homemade fortress, right in your backyard. It’s crooked, yes – but loaded with character, and will definitely be the future home of many imaginary adventures.
I came across a quote recently that I really like:
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” -Gloria Steinem
This quote summarizes how I feel about imagining and daydreaming, because for me – it is a form of planning. Whenever I get an idea to do anything, I research it and imagine the possibilites. My imagination is so strong, that in many instances I feel like I’ve truly experienced the situation. It’s a great tool that helps me make big life decisions, and often gives me the courage to try new things.
This is why I feel it is so important for children to be encouraged to use their imaginations and to daydream. Sometimes, you need to have your head in the clouds, so you can see what’s beyond and discover possibilites.
As a kid – you envision yourself as a superhero with magical powers and you fly (run quickly with a cape) around the world (your backyard) saving people (your friends who are tied up with a skipping rope screaming “help me, help me”)
As an adult – you are going for a promotion at work (where you’ll have a lot of responsibilities) and you’re nervous, but you envision yourself in the role. You see yourself taking charge and being good at your job. You go into the interview, and you nail it. You get the job. And the strange thing? You saw it happen.
Ultimately: To imagine is to see, and to see is to believe. So to believe in yourself, you need to imagine.”