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Imagination and Pretend Play

I was recently watching my twins play with their Magical Tea For Two set, and was marveling at the imagination and pretend play forming. Without adult influence, my 3 year olds were creating stories and adventures beyond belief, all stemming from this one tea set. First there was the usual, “Let’s have tea”, pouring a cup for each other. Then, Katelyn and Sophia set up a restaurant, taking snack orders from each other. This led to gathering up all the stuffed animals they could find, discussing what each animal prefers to eat. There was no limit on imagination, their play reaching way farther than the usual game of ‘serving tea’.

That is the beauty of imagination, kids can take so any item and dream up an entire different world. And, most of that imagination parallels real-life experiences {having tea, owning a restaurant, learning about animals and what they eat}. From playing with that one tea set I saw creativity, passion, compassion, kindness and teaching abilities, “feeia, wabbit eats cawwots you know“. Even my oldest daughter, at 7, still starts most sentences with, “Let’s pretend….” when she plays with her friends. I noticed this last week when she had a couple friends sleep over. Whether they were playing with dolls, dress-up clothes or just talking in their room, I constantly heard, “Let’s pretend” by all of the girls. So, it’s the everlasting ‘game’ with kids of all ages, called ‘Pretend Play’.

Last month I told you about Dr. Kathleen Alfano and shared her knowledge of choosing toys for a variety of ages. This time, she has some tips on ‘Pretend Play’.

“Pretend Play is more than fun—it helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills and strengthens social and communication skills, as well. It lets your child “try on” endless new roles and new ways of looking at the world, which helps build empathy and imagination.” says Dr. Alfano.

Dr. Alfano’s Tips to promote “Pretend play”:

  • Provide a collection of dress-up props for role-play.
  • Look at the clouds and take turns imagining what they resemble.
  • Plant seeds for imaginative thinking by reading lots of books together.
  • Provide toys that encourage creativity and imagination.
  • Make up stories with your child, building on each other’s additions.
  • Arrange play dates with others to foster social and imaginative play.
  • Listen to music with your child and act out how it sounds (sleepy, happy).
  • Take turns “being” things that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
  • Sometimes be your child’s play partner, sometimes just observe.
  • Use your own imagination and awaken your own inner child.
Do you have any tips for encouraging Pretend Play?

Disclosure: I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks
as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.



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    1. A pirate and spiderman.batman – those are popular with boys too, right? Not sure, I only know girls!! lol
      Yet, I do know that my kids’ boy friends have worn the dresses just to partake in the pretend play too!!

  1. I just love how their little imaginations work. They go from playing tea to getting bears and so on and so on. I just love the 2-4 age.

    1. Yes Kristin! They never stop, that’s the amazing thing.
      We always comment on how kids never stop physically moving – yet the imagination is always ‘on’ as well. Amazing to see!

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