Dr Laura Mraz and Ideation

What is it? The ability to generate ideas of what to do in novel situations or conceiving play ideas when presented with unfamiliar toys or objects (Case-Smith & O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). 

Why is it important? Children who have difficulty with ideation may have difficulty with creating motor plans or navigating their environment with purpose, therefore may wander around aimlessly (Case-Smith & O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). Ideation is a skill necessary for occupations across the lifetime, such as: 

  • Activities of daily living (functional mobility, dressing, grooming) 
  • Play and leisure activities (pretend play) 
  • Academic performance (interacting with peers, participating in play, crafts) 
  • Job performance 
  • Driving

5 activities to try at home: 

Dr Laura Mraz and Ideation

1. Asking “What if…?” questions. 

Tip: Present various silly scenarios and see how your child responds! 

Dr Laura Mraz and ideation

 2. Presenting the child with a “design challenge”. 

Tip: For example, ask the child to create something tall and see what they come up with! 

Dr Laura Mraz and Ideation

3. Play a game they enjoy, but ask them to change one thing about it. 

Tip: For example, play tag but change one rule (i.e. each time someone gets tagged they have to act like an animal when they are chasing others [hopping like a frog]).  

Dr Laura Mraz and Ideation

4. Creating their own craft. 

Tip: Provide the child with various materials and ask them to create something with them! 

Dr Laura Mraz and Ideation

5. Adding a new component to a preferred toy. 

Tip: For example, if your child prefers playing with play-doh, introduce a new toy with it such as dinosaurs or figurines to facilitate pretend play (i.e. making play-doh beds for dinosaurs to sleep in, etc.).


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48. 

Case-Smith, J., & O’Brien, J. (2015). Occupational therapy for children and adolescents (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby, Inc.