The Importance of Pretend Play

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Something magical happens when children pretend play. Have you ever just stopped and watched a child completely engaged in a new role? It is pretty amazing. Pretend play is such an important learning tool for children. It helps them to grow and mature socially and emotionally, gives them skills and confidence to carry with them throughout life and teaches them to nurture, love, rationalize and compromise. It’s a pretty cool thing is what I am trying to say.

Helping your child to embrace imaginative play is easy to do. Here are a few ways you can help them learn and grow through pretend:

Play with them. Go along with the story line and get into character yourself. It’s always more fun to play with someone else.

Provide tools and materials. It doesn’t take much, simple things around the house can spark an imagination so easily.

Let them be bored. Turn off the screens and force them to get creative. They will thank you for it, okay maybe not, but, they should.

Pretend Play Ideas

1- Play food for grocery store, restaurant or home pretend play. I use real empty food boxes and cover them in clear packing tape to make them durable. Plastic berry containers filled with pom-poms. Egg cartons with paper mache eggs.  They just love the real stuff from my kitchen so much more then the actual toys. That’s why we keep an art recycle box in our home.


2- Play money. So many uses and easy to make.  Green felt cut into rectangles and wooden rounds for coins.

3- Shoe Shop. Got empty boxes? Got shoes? You got a shoe store

4- Mommy/Daddy. I know you all have dolls, but add a few real props to it to make this pretend play even better. I filled an empty baby wipes container with felt squares, made the dolls cloth diapers (might as well throw in some green living skills while you’re at it) and added some retired baby bottles to the doll corner.

5- Hair salon. Last week I showed you how to make a hair cutting doll which is great for this. You can also pull out some sponge rollers and empty spray bottles and let the kids do your hair. My daughter once used pipe cleaner to decorate her aunts beautiful long hair. She turned out very festive.

6- Play dough kitchen. Instead of giving the kids all of those plastic tools that never seem to work right, try handing over some bowls, wooden spoons, measuring cups and any other kid safe kitchen tools. They will enjoy it much more. Check out this easy play dough recipe.

7- Let them wash the dishes. Really. They will come out either still dirty or full of soap, but you will have a happy little helper on your hands.

8- Ice cream parlor. An apron, ice cream scoop, pom poms and bowls.

9- Is there a “real” doctor in the house? Last Christmas I put together a doctor kit for my daughter that cost me less than a toy kit. I filled an old make-up box with my amazon findings including a purple stethoscope for $3 and a child sized blood pressure cuff. I added things like gauze and band aids and she was in absolute heaven recruiting patients by the minute.

I could really go on and on, but you get the idea. Our children are grown-ups in training and this is how they love to learn.

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