The importance of pretend play

Written by contributor Melissa Allen of Green Owl Art

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

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.
pretend play ideas

pretend play ideas

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.

pretend play ideas

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.

pretend play ideas

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 doctors 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.

To see more details on these fun activities, head on over to Green Owl Art.


Join the discussion

What are some of your child’s favorite imagination play activities? Is there any pretend play ideas in my list above you think you will try? Let me know in the comments below!

, , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to The importance of pretend play

  1. Jadah Sellner May 23, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    Melissa, this is awesome! These ideas are so simple and easy and eco-friendly. I love it! I think I will have to add these to a few of our summer bucket list. Zoe is going to love this. Thank you for sharing.

    This is a nice article that discusses how we have started limiting our kids access to imagination play:

  2. Trina {Beginner Beans} May 23, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    This is a wonderful list of ideas! I completely agree with letting them get bored. My daughter LOVES playing dress up and being a princess or ballerina (one I’d add to the list), but she rarely does so if she’s been watching a lot of TV. If I say no to TV for a while, then the next thing I know she’s jumping right in to pretend play. I’d also add playing teacher/school, and oddly she loves playing cowboy and using a rope to wrangle her little brother 🙂 The possibilities are absolutely endless!

  3. funeral catering September 25, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    If you are going for most excellent contents like me, simply pay a quick visit this web site
    everyday for the reason that it gives quality contents, thanks

  4. App Musica Cristiana September 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    el Grupo hupernikao subio SUS Obras de teatro cristiano estan Muy Buenas, Tal Vez les ayude espero
    Que les bendicion mucha mar de (Buscar en youtube COMO “pabarel”
    Gracias por este buenisimo maerial, lo voy a
    usar para grabacuones en audio dee reflexiones.

  5. bike lock reviews uk September 26, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    I have read so many articles or reviews about the blogger lovers however this
    paragraph is really a fastidious article,
    keep it up.

  6. fat burning pills September 28, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    If you are going for finest contents like me, simply pay a visit this web page all the time because it presents quality contents, thanks

  7. natural toothpaste 2 October 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I
    will ensure that I bookmark your blog and may come
    back from now on. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice holiday

  8. StantonQHopp July 31, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    I’ll straight away clutch your feed because i can’t to get your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you may have any? Kindly let me know to ensure that I may just subscribe.


Leave a Reply