How we are inspiring imaginative play at home

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How we are inspiring imaginative play at home is a sponsored post partnership with Mattel.

how we are inspiring imaginative play at home

When my older two were little, tech products were just starting to pop up more for kids.

It was an exciting time because they still had classic non-tech toys and some new tech ones to play with. It felt like the perfect mix. Fast forward a few years and things have changed a bunch. The mix of imaginative play toys and tech toys seemed a bit skewed to us so Pete and I had a sit-down talk about it.

We love tech heavy toys because we want to prepare our kids in the tech heavy work they will be living in, but we also know that the benefits for inspiring good imaginative play are vast and far reaching. We know that imaginative play leads to creative play and that all is how today’s kids become tomorrow’s disease curers. That is how those that lead our future and solve modern problems get the inspiration to do so and to think outside the box.

barbie saddle n ride horse

We felt we were doing a good job encouraging Emmy’s imagination, but we decided to do even more.

Here is how we are inspiring imaginative play at home:

  1. We try to stay away from leading her when she is making decisions, things like what to play with and where. Instead we offer different options and help her decide what she wants to do with open ended questions.
  2. We offer toys that we know she can grow with and that won’t stop her creative mind from thinking “what now?” When I was younger I had a Barbie® Dreamhouse™ that the neighborhood friends and I played with all the time. We acted out so many real life stories in it and had hours of fun. I remember when one of our neighbors moved in we pretended the same thing was happening with Barbie® by moving the house to a new room!

Much like I remembered it, the Barbie® Dreamhouse™ is a three story house with real-world inspired modern details/aesthetic, including many rooms, furniture, classic house details, and additional piececount for core house play. There are seven rooms for the kids to explore and create story lines in.  A kitchen, bathroom, dining room, bedroom (with a walk-in closet), living room, new dedicated pet room, and the new Garage/Bonus Play Room atrium window converts into a swimming pool. I thought it was adorable when Emmy used the garage as the stall for her horse and the pool as his watering pond. Emmy even threw a party for her friends with the light up fish tank!


3. We play with her and we encourage her to help us with whatever we are doing. When Emmy heard that Pete was putting together the Barbie® Dreamhouse™ she practically jumped out of the shower, threw on clothes and helped him get it all set up.

creative play

4. We give her ample free time. In a world where so much of our life is scheduled we try to always make sure that she has more than enough time to do whatever makes her happy.

play time

  1. We take real life interests of hers and scale it down for her to explore them more in a safe way. Emmy has always shown an interest in horseback riding so getting her a Barbie® Saddle ‘N Ride Horse™ to play with was the next natural stop.

Barbie® Saddle ‘N Ride Horse™ is what Pete and I would consider the perfect combination of classic toy meets tech boost. I remember having a horse when I was younger but it wasn’t this cool. When Barbie is ready for a ride with her horse you just push the simple activation, and Barbie swings up on her horse’s back!  Then the horse immediately starts walking on her own. Seriously so cool! Emmy and I both just sat there for a few minutes watching!

barbie dream house play

6. We make sure her toys are both small and large. We want her imagination to run wild and we want her to have all sorts of inspiration.

dream housedream house features

You can create your own imaginative play in your home with these Mattel products.

How do you inspire imaginative play for your kids?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • We do a lot of just hide and seek and play with LEGOs. We do some of the same things you do, but I need to do more! Thanks for the ideas!

  • I remember playing with Barbie when I was young. I used to have her horse as well and we would go galloping through the fields (the grass in the backyard). It’s amazing how imaginative children can be when they play.

  • Oh that doll house would be awesome, my girls would love it! We play constantly as a family, together as siblings etc. My kids are always on the go and using their imaginations…. I love it!

  • Oh my goodness, I loved my Barbie dream house and my girls are the perfect age for it. Oh, and I totally agree about getting kids to use their imaginations…

  • I love that you not only give your daughter ample choices for what she wants to play with, but also the time to play with it! That is so important to remember that kids need time to play. Too often our lives get too busy and kids aren’t able to just play and explore imaginative play with toys.
    And let me just say that barbie dreamhouse is amazing! My daughter would absolutely love that for her imaginative playtime!

  • This is an amazing doll house. It is so important to encourage kids to use their imagination. I had a huge doll house my parents made for me when i was younger. I wish i still had it.

  • We try to get the kids to be creative everyday. we like to have a craft time so they can make whatever they want to create. Imagination is so important for kids to develop.

  • I love when my kids use their imagination when they’re playing! Creative playtime is a daily occurrence in our house!

  • What a great dollhouse. My girls would have loved that when they were small. Our two were pretty good with imaginative play… we had a lot of toy animals and dolls as well as puppets for them to play with.

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