Where can you watch a sword fight between 2 knights? Or a princess being pulled in her carriage? Well, it could be in your own backyard…
And it’s just pretend play! And pretend play has a wide variety of benefits for children that include the enhancement of social skills and language. So, what is pretend play, and when does it start?
According to one article, pretend play is “a form of symbolic play where children use objects, actions, or ideas to represent other objects, actions, or ideas using their imagination to assign roles to inanimate objects or people.”
Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, theorized that pretend play starts in the second year of life. As for why he thought this, it was because of symbolic thinking. Children, during this time, can symbolize objects through the use of drawings and words. And therefore, pretend play is largely based on this ability to symbolize.
1.The quality of pretend play has implications for later development (such as behavior). For example, those who show violent pretend play at an early age are less likely to be empathetic towards other children.
As another example, children who show more elaborate pretend play are more likely to do well in school later on.
2.Pretend play also benefits social skills. According to one article, children that engage in pretend play are experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. They also learn to take turns, cooperate, and problem solve with others. Children also learn to “step into another person’s shoes,” which helps develop empathy (being able to feel what others’ feel).
3.Children further develop their language skills. As you listen to your children play, you may realize that your children are saying words you might not have heard before! For example, children may use words that they are not normally exposed to everyday such as sword or castle.Children may also imitate some words and phrases that you say!
Pretend play is generally good practice for listening to others, practicing words and conversations, and what is being communicated through body language.
4.Pretend play helps nurture higher level thinking, as well as one’s imagination. In another one of my blog posts, it was suggested that play can help with problem solving. This can be particularly the case in pretend play. For example, if a child wants to “build a princess castle,” they may have to think about what materials to use in order to do that. It could be a cardboard box and lots of markers to color on it! It may also involve working out a story line with another person or character- How do they decide who is going to be the cop or the robber?
Children also be anything and do anything when it comes to pretend play! For instance, they can pretend to be a superhero with magic powers!
1. Try dress-up clothes.
Little Adventures has lots of dress up clothes for both girls and boys. The material for their costumes are soft, comfortable, as well as machine washable (even multiple washings)! In addition, these clothes are easy to get on and off, so kids don’t have to worry about lots of buttons and zippers if they want to change in and out of costumes. The company also has a guarantee that if you don’t like what you got, that they will replace it.
Here, children can take on many different roles and be whatever they want!
2. Interactive Vet Clinic and Cage
My daughter has one of these, and she loves playing with it! This toy can help develop empathy, as well as social skills. In addition, children may have a better understanding of some of the things that at an “animal doctor” does.
3. Play Kitchen
When you place a pot on the stove, you will hear what sounds like water bubbling! So, this kitchen set has realistic sounds and lights to go along with it. Your kids can play restaurant, take orders, and do the cooking for a change! 🙂
This toy can help your child “play house” and model independence. In addition, these toys can help develop coordination and fine-motor skills. My daughter likes to help me clean anyways, so I may need to grab this set for her!
This is a 19 piece toolset, and the pieces are very durable. The tools come in a carrying case that can be easily transported on trips or vacations. Children like to model their parents, so with this set, they are able to hammer a nail or twist a screw just like you do!
6.Fisher-Price Medical Kit
This has great reviews on Amazon! There are 7 pieces such as a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, etc. The button on the thermometer can be pressed, so it goes from sick to well. My daughter loves playing doctor, as she has a set just like this. Definitely a fun idea for pretend play!
7. Melissa & Doug School Time! Classroom Play Set
I love anything we ever got from Melissa and Doug. This is a great set and has great reviews on Amazon! The set even includes drop-down teacher and student desks. It also comes with over 150 accessories such as stickers, blocks, a bell and timer, lesson plan guide, a storybook, as well as 2 reusable double-sided boards and 2 dry-erase markers. So, there’s plenty of opportunities for pretend play and fun for your kids!
8.Toy Shopping Cart and Play Food for Grocery Shopping
Both of these items are best-sellers! The food comes from Melissa and Doug, so it should be very durable. Thus, children can spend a lot of time playing grocery shopping!
Here’s a free download of a grocery list that your kids can use while playing!
Pretend play has numerous benefits such as enhancing language, social skills, as well as one’s imagination. Play, in and of itself, is so important for kids. There are many ways to encourage it, and I hope these ideas were helpful to you!
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Pretend Play. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.pgpedia.com/p/pretend-play
Rathus, S. A. (2017). Children: Voyages in Development. (6th ed.). Cengage Learning: Boston.
The importance of pretend play. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/kids-activities-and-printables/activities-for-kids/arts-and-craft-ideas/importance-pretend-play.html
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