In this post, I will outline the usual image play games that we play: (1) stick image (basic image training), (2) orange card image training/"after image" training; (3) pretend play; and (4) imaginary story.

Basic image training (also stick image training)
This is the base for all other image training so you should do this before all other image training. Do this at home, everyday, before you do the rest of image play. We do not do this in class, as class is only once a week. If your child is under three, he can do it in your arms.
a) "Let's lie down on the floor. Close your eyes. Pretend that you are sleeping. A person who fell asleep doesn't open eyes, doesn't talk and doesn't move. Well, you are doing really well!"
b) "Let's take deep breaths. Exhale slowly and deeply, and flatten your tummy. Now, let's inhale and let your tummy swell. Make your tummy like a big balloon. When you are breathing slowly like this, you are becoming very calm and relaxed. All bad energy is leaving your body and good energy is coming in. There is no tension in your body or in your mind and it is very easy for you to image." (Repeat this breathing a few times). 
c) "Let's image that we will become a stick. When I say 'Now!", tighten all your muscles and imagine that your body has become a very hard stick. Ok? Now!" To tell if the child is visualising the image well, touch his limbs to see if they are tensed up and hardened.
d) "When I say "Now!", your body will become soft like cotton. Ok? Now!" The child will relax. 
e) "Now, you can see a red balloon. Imagine well! Once you can see it, raise your hand. Ok, put down your hand."
f) If your child can see red, have him visualise a yellow circle, then a blue circle. Then ask him to visualise other images - "Now the blue circle spreads and turns into a lake. Then it turns into a swimming pool."
g) "Now you turn off everything and you are coming back to the room when I count 1-2-3. 1-2-3! Open your eyes slowly. Good! Welcome back!"

Orange card image training/"after image" training (4 years old and above)
I have explained this in Part 11.

Pretend play (any age)
Pretend play is straightforward - the child can be a teacher in the classroom, an astronaut fixing his rocketship, a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a mouse hiding his cheese, or a tree swaying in the wind. 

Mind you, it is not the usual pretend play. In this game, we are not focusing on creativity, motor skills, language skills or social skills. Our aim here is for the child to be able to create an image of the scenario in his mind and to be able to change that image as he likes.

For older children, you can do image play by getting them to close their eyes and visualise the scenario in their minds. Here's an example:

a) "Let's lie down on the floor. Close your eyes. Pretend that you are sleeping. A person who fell asleep doesn't open eyes, doesn't talk and doesn't move. Well, you are doing really well!"
b) "Let's take deep breaths. Exhale slowly and deeply, and flatten your tummy. Now, let's inhale and let your tummy swell. Make your tummy like a big balloon. When you are breathing slowly like this, you are becoming very calm and relaxed. All bad energy is leaving your body and good energy is coming in. There is no tension in your body or in your mind and it is very easy for you to image." (Repeat this breathing a few times).
c) Now, let's imagine being a butterfly. You are becoming a butterfly now. Your body is getting smaller and smaller, and now you are a butterfly. 
d) Flutter your wings and fly.
e) You can open your eyes slowly and see a corner of the room. You can see a flowerbed.
f) Now you can see many yellow tulips. If you see them, raise your hand. Ok, put down your hand.
g) Fly to the flowers and suck nectar from them. You can taste very sweet and delicious nectar. Can you tell me how it is like?
h) Now you are coming back to your seat. Close your eyes. When I count to three, you will come back to yourself. 1-2-3! 

For younger children, they may not understand how to do all that so we don't do pretend play this way. Instead, we show them some pictures and images of the scenario beforehand and we give them materials to play with to help them along and to strengthen the mental images that they create in their minds. For example, if your child is going to pretend to be a firefighter, you can show him a picture of the firefighter's uniform, the fire engine, the fire, the equipment a firefighter uses, etc. Then you can give him a task to carry out as if he is a firefighter. Guide him along, ask him questions, so that the images in his mind are strengthened. Don't just hand your child some toys and expect him to pretend play by himself.

Make it a multi-sensory experience, in terms of input and output. For example, for the input, if your child is pretending to be a butterfly flying about in the meadow, you can burn some lavender scented oil. Or if he is pretending to be a rockstar at a concert, give him the right music. If he is pretending to be a teacher, ring a bell for recess. For the output, try to get him to talk (if he's a waiter, get him to tell you what's on the menu), to touch (if he's pretending he's at the seaside, ask him how the sand feels between his toes), to smell (if he's pretending to take his bath, ask him how the soap smells), to feel (if he's a bird in the sky, ask him if he feels happy or scared), to see and to hear (if he's an astronaut, ask him what he sees and hears in outer space). All this will help to strengthen the images in his mind.

Imaginary story (2 years old and above)
This is basically the same as pretend play, with one difference. In pretend play, your child pretends a real-life scenario. In imaginary story, the story can be as fanciful as he likes and you let your child imagine what to do. Here's an example:

a) "Today we will play in a story world, the world of imagination. Let's lie down on the floor. Close your eyes. Pretend that you are sleeping. A person who fell asleep doesn't open eyes, doesn't talk and doesn't move. Well, you are doing really well!"
b) "Let's take deep breaths. Exhale slowly and deeply, and flatten your tummy. Now, let's inhale and let your tummy swell. Make your tummy like a big balloon. When you are breathing slowly like this, you are becoming very calm and relaxed. All bad energy is leaving your body and good energy is coming in. There is no tension in your body or in your mind and it is very easy for you to image." (Repeat this breathing a few times).
c) "Now you are in a quiet wood. This is where beautiful animals and gnomes and fairies live. A pretty squirrel comes your way and looks up at you. You say, "Hello, Mr Squirrel." The squirrel smiles and says, "Hello, welcome to our woods!""
d) "What is going to happen? Your image can take you anywhere you want and do anything. Remember what you see and tell me what happened when you come back. I am going to stop talking for a while. Enjoy your images!"

For younger children who might not understand all that, we do this the way we do pretend play - we set the scene by showing them pictures and images and then we ask them to act out the story.  For example, two weeks ago, we did this in class: 

First, sensei showed the class a picture of some Care Bears. She introduced each one of the Care Bears in the picture. Then she showed a picture of just one of the Care Bears - Good Luck Bear. She explained that Good Luck Bear has a four-leaf clover on his tummy to symbolise good luck. She said that Good Luck Bear gives good luck to all his friends. Then she gave each child a bear tummy (made of cardboard with some white felt stuck on it) which they tied around their bodies. On the bear tummy were six four-leaf clovers that could be detached (there was velcro on the back). Sensei told the children that they could go around and give out good luck to their classmates by giving out the four-leaf clovers. So the children went around giving each other four-leaf clovers. Ryan even gave one to sensei! 

In Part 13, I will put up some scenarios that you can use for pretend play and imaginary story. I hope that gives you some inspiration to come up with more!

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