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1879 - First official Newhall School building erected near Walnut & Ninth streets [story]
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The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Mar 9, 2013

JenniferFischerWe keep getting closer and closer to the halfway point with the “ABCs of the Santa Clarita Valley” with Animals, Bicycle Trails, Central Park, Drums, Education, Family Dinner, Golf and Hiking. For the letter “I,” Ice Cream and the Ice Station were in contention, but in the end I decided to go with Imagination – sharing the places and activities (some that can be done at home) that spark the imagination of my 3 year-old.

Ultimately, when writing and thinking about imagination and nurturing the imagination of a child, I am reminded it is often the simplest (and cheapest or even free) things that can engage a child and really spark them to create, envision and imagine.

At home, I marvel at all that a cardboard box can do and become – and I know parents who find this to be true with even older children. My favorite story is of a parent who was baffled when her elementary-aged son told them they needed a new TV. She thought their TV was fine. He explained he needed a really big box.

Of course, she was thrilled and was able to get him the perfect box – TV not included. At our house, boxes are most often trains, but we have also created fire trucks and buses from boxes, as well.

Other items that have become much more are rocks (which are usually trains, too) and basically any container you can imagine, which typically becomes different forms of transportation – boats, buses, ambulances. Are you beginning to see a theme here? We can do so much simply with items that are destined for the recycle bin.

jenniferfischer030813Around town, I have noticed that playgrounds inspire lots of imagination and pretend play. Sky and Benjamin also love to go to the Westfield Valencia Town Center and play on the fire truck, train and bus over near the carousel. No coins required, their imaginations turn on, and they have so much fun pretending that they are the conductor, fire fighter and bus driver. They really do not need any assistance.

At the playgrounds, I have seen typical play structures transform into tree houses, giant pirate ships, a special diner serving the best pancakes you can imagine (woodchip pancakes, of course), and so much more.

In the fall, Lombardi Ranch offers a lot of imaginative fun – especially the giant hay tower, which quickly transforms from a tall building to a mountain to a roller coaster. I think you get the idea.

In essence, what my sons remind me of everyday is the importance of perspective – things are what they are because we say that is what they are. (Am I getting too philosophical?) Take our backyard, for instance. Right now, I see some weeds, but Sky sees flowers.

I see cotton balls, but Sky and Benjamin see snow to play with – which I love because cotton balls can be bought at the dollar store, clean up easily, do not make a sound when they are thrown, and do not hurt. They’re the perfect indoor snowball fight- and snowman-making item for snow-deprived SoCal kids.

So, as you get your weekend started, I encourage you to open your eyes and look at your world a little differently. Engage your imagination, encourage your children to engage theirs, and see what happens. You might find yourself standing on the couch with them and acting out their favorite storybook, which happened not too long ago at our house, or pulling around blanket-trains full of passengers – stuffed animals, of course – that then magically become a roller coaster for a toddler.

This is why I love The Good Long Road – and this what I love to share as I travel along it with my kids. Thanks for joining me. As always, please pop over to The Good Long Road on Facebook to tell me how you encourage imaginative play.


Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

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