Ingredients: Rug, blanket or large towel; any associated paraphernalia you might need for your journey, a favourite cuddly or two, your own mouths to make noises and / or some musical instruments.

The Big Sell: Let’s go on a flying carpet journey – hold on tight!

Strategy:        Do the kids need an outing but it’s raining outside and there’s no cash left for a train or bus ride? I take mine on imaginary journeys using a rug as a flying carpet. The children choose the location – the zoo, seaside, moon – and we have to find ways to make the noises using our mouths and a box of instruments I’ve gathered (shakers made from yoghurt pots taped together with rice or lentils inside, rainmakers, wooden sticks, bells, whistles, tambourines). As we journey closer to our destination the noises get louder, when we’re creeping up on the sleeping dragon the noises must fall to a whisper. Sometimes we close our eyes and listen carefully to hear what noises are all already around us and might give a clues to our imaginary world – the hush of passing traffic might be a waterfall nearby, the squeal of children outside must be mischievous munchkins. All this sensory exploration helps grow the imagination and set the scene for a rich and child-led drama game to which they hold the key. There can be disaster  (teddy’s fallen from the hot air balloon, can we throw out a tea towel for him to hold onto?!) and happy endings (we’ve arrived home to a princesses tea party – help me arrange the biscuits on this pretty plate).

The Verdict: Even my older boy will fall back into this kind of play with his younger brother. They adore the fact that the adult also suspends disbelief and shares the imaginary world that they often live in. Suddenly the same old four walls fall away and every object lying around has an exciting use – a wooden spoon becomes a paddle, a throw an invisible blanket, Daddy’s shoes are the feet of the sleeping giant. We now keep a rucksack handy filled with useful travelling tools – a compass, an electronic toy from a charity shop that bleeps and can be a walkie talkie, an old crab line, a small pencil and notebook, a torch, binoculars. One of my favourite ‘Mummy memories’ will be when my two sons first came downstairs (age 18 months and four and a half) both dressed in travelling hats and matching rucksacks ready to take their first imaginary journey in the garden, without me!

Catchphrase: Quick, the giant’s woken! Run back to the flying carpet!

Left wanting more?

  • Look at ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, by Michael Rosen published by Walker Books, for another journey that uses sounds to come alive. Use it journey round the house – the swishy grass is the doormat, the squelchy mud bouncing on the bed, the dark cave under the duvet! And of the course favourite teddy has to play the ferocious bear!!!