A lot of children thrive from a little imaginative play so adding some imaginative hook ideas to your lessons can be a great way to engage them.
When I use the word ‘play’ it doesn’t mean they aren’t learning, it just means that the learning is more fun! An hour or two invested in getting a child’s imagination fired up is well worth it if you want great work from them in future sessions, and they’ll be doing so much more learning through the activity than you ever thought possible from something so silly and fun.
You’re going to have to give a little during these sessions, so leave your self-consciousness at the door and get in character. You’re no longer a parent and a teacher, you’re a story teller, an actor and an entertainer. And you can always draft in a willing auntie or uncle if you need back up here! I’ve made some resources to make life as easy as possible for you, sign up below to get them sent to your inbox.
Imaginative Lesson Hook Ideas
Here are some ideas of imaginative ways into a topic, or ways to spice up a topic that’s getting a little boring! You can switch up the topic and use the same basic idea for any theme. Kids love to use their imagination, and once you’ve got started with some of these imaginative hooks it will get easier and easier to adapt them and use them for a whole range of different topics.
I’ve included some suggestions of lessons you might want to follow them with, but to be honest, they don’t need to lead on to a formal lesson – there’ll be a whole lot of learning just in the doing!
If you can, ask a willing friend to record a video message. You could do this too if you put on glasses and a funny accent. They should explain that they’re reporting from space station 305 and they need your help with a very important mission.
The satellite transmitting images of Mars (or any planet) is broken and vital information about the planet is missing. They need you to find out as much information as possible about Mars before they land so they’re fully prepared. They should present back and send a video message (or fact sheet / email / power point presentation) with their findings. A script is included in my free printable pack if you aren’t feeling inventive!
You can tailor this to a lot of different topics. For example, instead of finding out about a planet you could use it as the starter for a story – they’re lost in space and you need to write about how they make it home. You could use it for work on maths problems – they’ve lost the data for their passwords for the engine room and all they have are these clues on a sheet…. 5 x 7 = or whatever sums they’re attempting! For younger children change the script slightly and get them to build a space rocket to go into space and lend a helping hand.
There are endless possibilities with this one and they don’t have to have anything to do with space!
Imaginative Hook Ideas For Dragons
You’ll need a few props for this imaginative hook idea. I’d suggest a backpack full of ordinary items that will become ‘magic’. Explain that not many people know this about you, but you actually trained as a Dragonologist many years ago. This doesn’t mean you kill dragons, but that you study them for scientific purposes.
Show them your bag full of hunting equipment and explain what everything does. You’ll want to elaborate – for example a hat could be made from special fire resistant material, a cloak could make you invisible to dragons. I’ve included an example list in the resource pack!
Tell them you need help on your latest dragon hunting mission and you think they’re old enough to train and come with you. You can do some dragon research first if you have time, just to make sure they’re up to scratch! This is a great book to use to spark imagination.
Then head off on the dragon hunt and have fun hunting for dragons! They’re bound to find all sorts of dragon related clues, but they might need a little prompting from you to start with.
This can inspire a whole range of lessons, especially descriptive writing or art work. Or you can just have fun feeding their imagination, which is a great building block for becoming a better writer and story teller.
Imaginative Hook Ideas For Fairies
Go over to a tree trunk and listen carefully. Get your child to come and listen too. Ask if they can hear the knocking coming from inside. Explain that this has happened to you before. It’s a silly fairy that’s got itself stuck inside the tree. They’ve used magic to get inside without thinking about how they’ll get out again. You have to help them – but how!?
Talk about how we get in and out of things – through doors! You need to build a door for the fairy to get out of the tree. You can then make a fairy door from anything you like, but clay is usually the most fun. They can decorate it and paint it and then place it by the tree. You’ll have to go back inside though because fairies are too shy to come out while you’re watching. Next time you go outside listen at the tree to make sure they aren’t knocking any more!
If this imaginative hook idea goes down well then you can make up all sorts of extensions around it. Make more doors for their friends, make some gargoyles to guard the doors from pesky elves. Make them some garden furniture. Write them letters. There’s a whole years worth of play there!
There are so many great imaginative hook ideas based around animals. Most kids love the topic of animals, so there’s always a way in here – whether it’s woodland animals or lions and tigers! Here’s a few ideas to start you off and I’ll keep adding more, let me know in the comments if you need ideas for a particular animal and I’ll get my creative hat on!
Write yourself a letter from a very important research department who are looking for someone to help them with a super important mission! There’s a pre-made letter in the free download pack if you want to save time.
An undiscovered species has been spotted in your garden or local park and they need your help researching it. They’ve sent research material and sheets to fill in (obviously) You can head outside and search for clues of this creatures existence. If you want to you could leave out some ‘signs’ like colourful art feathers, material you could pass off as scales, fur. Anything that could spark imagination. If you don’t have time then just imagine them!
Start by prompting it. For example, whisper ‘what was that noise?’ and listen together. Then, ‘there, did you hear it?’ Usually the child will join in and pretend they have. If not, just carry on by pretending to spot more unusual signs the animals around, like scratches on a tree trunk or footprints or nibbled pine cones. They’ll eventually join in and find lots of fun things they can pretend are signs of a new animal or bird!
Pretend you can hear a phone ringing and have a little search around. Pick up a small stick and put it to your ear like a phone, then have an imaginary phone conversation – a very sympathetic one. The ants have called you and they have a big problem.
Explain to your child that the ants are stuck on one side of the pond / tree / fence / flower bed and they to get to the other side but there’s no way through. Have a chat together about how to solve this problem. Take their lead, but if they’re struggling try asking some leading questions like ‘hmmm, how do we get over rivers / motorways / marshes.’
They might suggest building a boat or a bridge, or have some other fascinating idea that may or may not work. Remember this isn’t about the end goal (there aren’t really any ants in need – sorry) It’s just about them getting creative, problem solving and giving it a try. Don’t tell them it won’t work, let them find out for themselves. They might surprise you!
Tell your child the story of Bert, a baby bird who is too afraid to fly. Bert was having a great time with his brothers and sisters until one by one they flew nest and left Bert all alone. He knows he should fly away too and find his own nest but every time he looks down from the tree branch he gets super nervous and just can’t jump. He’s seen people flying in all sorts of things and he needs their help to make him fly.
Talk about the different ways people can fly – parachutes, planes, hot air balloons. Bring out lots of different materials for your child to experiment with in making something that will help Bert to fly.
They could be natural materials like leaves or ferns, or they could be different household materials like tin foil and paper. You might want to include some string so they can make parachutes and some paper plane instructions so they can give that a go too!
This is a great starter lesson for looking at materials, forces or transport. It’s also teaching problem solving, empathy, and loads of other things too!
Imaginative Lesson Hooks For Fairy Tales
With so many fairy tales to choose from you won’t be short of inspiration! Here are a few ideas to start you off.
Goldilocks And The Three Bears
Leave an letter of the doorstep, pretend you heard the doorbell go and ask your child to see who is at the door (or to come with you while you do if they’re too young!) You can make this as elaborate as you like – remember it’s a fairy tale theme! Add balloons, or put the note in a box with confetti. Or just a note will be fine!
The note should explain how Goldilocks ate all the bears porridge and now they’re really hungry (there’s a fun rhyming letter in the resource pack). Use this as a prompt to make porridge, or whatever else you fancy! You can link it to a lesson in heating and cooling, or weighing (Mr Bear will want more than Baby Bear). You could even use it for sensory play and hide an object that Goldilocks lost in one bowl of porridge for them to find. Or take it outside and make some mud pies with added leaves and stones for sprinkles!
The Three Little Pigs
Tell the story of the three little pigs – you can read it or just tell it from memory. Get them to join in with the ‘huff puff’ bit to make it more fun! Tell your child that something really similar is happening in the garden. There are three little worms and a big bad bird! The three little worms have asked if you’ll test out which house is the strongest so they don’t make the same mistake as the three little pigs.
You can use grass or reeds instead of hay of you don’t have any, sticks (you can show them how to weave sticks for this if they’ll concentrate long enough!) and clay and stones to build the strongest house. Make sure you huff and puff (or push) on them at the end to see which stay up the best!
This can inspire all sorts of lessons – sequencing, story writing, instruction writing, synonyms, materials, forces and all sorts of maths problems (what time did the big bad bird visit the straw house, it takes double the puffs to knock down the stick house etc)
Dinosaur Hook Ideas
If you have time then make a big dinosaur egg! You can do this quite easily with some scrunched up paper and bandages wrapped around it. Leave the dinosaur egg in the middle of the garden ready for the child to find next time they go out to play.
Explain that you hadn’t believed the neighbours when they said they’d seen a huge dinosaur walking past the houses, but it must be true! If they get worried explain that it was a herbivore dinosaur and they’re really gentle, so you aren’t in any danger! What does the child think you should do with the egg?
Steer them towards building a nest for the egg to keep it safe until the dinosaur returns. If they’re old enough they can be encouraged to think about things like where to build it to keep it safe from predators (foxes love a good dinosaur egg). If they’re younger then get them thinking about how to keep the egg warm, or comfy for when the dinosaur hatches.
Tell your child that you heard that mermaids around the world are losing their scales. If you want to make this even more fun then get a friend to shove on some glittery eye make up and record a sad tale of woe from a mermaid asking for help! Tell them this is very sad, because their scales are what make them waterproof and stop water getting inside and making them cold when they swim. You’re really worried about them and you feel like you should do something to help – but what!?
Of course! You could find a waterproof material that they could use to replace the scales they’ve lost!
This gives you a great in for researching waterproof materials, or sinking and floating. You could also use it to inspire some art collages using the waterproof material as mermaids tails, or acting or story writing. You could use it for shape work, looking at tessellating shapes or number work as you’ll need to work out how many scales to make – if the mermaid needs 10 scales and she’s only got 6, how many more does she need?
These are only a few ideas for imaginative hooks into topics or lessons that will give learning a focus and a purpose. I’d love to know if you give any a try, and whether or not they worked! And if you have any more suggestions then comment below so I can add them!