20 Pretend Play Ideas

20 Pretend Play Ideas

20 Pretend Play IdeasAccording to the American Board of Pediatrics, playing helps build your child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well being.  Playing is important and children and parents should take time out of their day to sit down to play with your child. It is a great way to spend quality time with your child and create memories. Many children today aren’t given the opportunity to play freely and learn how to play own their own using their own imagination, creativity, thinking skills, and cognitive skills.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

After my son played with my nieces, he started using his imagination, creativity, and has started pretending while playing. Most children love learning through play and often times they will also try to imitate things that we do on a daily basis.

Benefits of Pretend Play

Have you ever heard your toddler playing house, picking up a car and making motor sounds, hop like a bunny across the living room, cook “food” using toys, or things around the house, or pretending? As they are playing, they are doing so much more than just having fun. They are building other skills that are important for their development.

  • Social Skills – As they are playing, your child often will take on the role of pretending to be different characters or people while playing with their toys. They may even imitate other people’s voices. For example, if your child is playing house with their friends or other siblings, your child might pretend they are the mommy or daddy and will say things that their parents might say to them. Also, kids quickly figure out that they can be anything or anyone they want to be when they are pretend playing.
  • Emotional Skills – If your child is pretending, it is possible that they will take on the emotions of others during play time. My youngest son often will tell me that he doesn’t feel good because I tell him that mommy doesn’t feel good or can’t pick him up. Pretend play helps them learn how to cope with different emotions (ie love, empathy, happy, sad, ect) and it helps them to develop their own emotional maturity.
  • Language Skills – While playing with their action figures, stuffed animals, or other toys, your child might pretend to have conversations between the different the different characters. Don’t be surprised if you hear things that you have said, they are parrots and will repeat nearly anything that they hear. Also, your child might even surprise you and start saying things that you didn’t even know that they know how to say.
  • Builds Thinking Skills – As your child is busy pretending and playing, they are learning how to solve problems. For example, if they want to build a fort they have to figure out what materials they need in order to build their fort. They skills that they are learning through play will be used the rest of their lives.
  • Freedom – Pretend play allows your child to play independently and have some sort of control over what they want to do. Of course, you should still supervise your child or check in on them to make sure that they aren’t doing things that could hurt them like climbing the walls ect. Young children are constantly being told “no” or “you can’t do that” and free play gives them to opportunity to pick out some of their toys and play by themselves or with others.
  • Independence – Store your child’s pretend toys in a place that is easily accessible and in a place that they can find them. You can encourage your child to choose what they want to play with while you are cooking dinner or trying to get a few things done around the house.

Continue Reading: 20 Pretend Play Ideas


12 responses to “20 Pretend Play Ideas”

  1. Beverley Golden Avatar

    So delighted to see how you promote “play” as a key component for early childhood development, especially between the ages of 0 – 7, where they learn by mirroring the world around them. As a child, I was quite cerebral and loved reading (imagination galore) and colouring (mostly inside the lines). I didn’t enjoy playing sports so much and looking back, wish I would have adopted more physical activities. Now as an adult I find walking is the most glorious form of exercising and being in the world. Great post Christy! Important one for parents of young children too. 🙂

    1. Christy Avatar

      I think kids need a good balance of pretend play and exercise. I am guilty of not letting my own kids play outside very often but when they do they enjoy it. I rather them play outside in the backyard so that I can keep a close eye on them but with summer temps over 100 its not always ideal for them to go outside.

  2. Alexandra McAllister Avatar

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post. It brought back many memories of my early childhood. I also believe that there are many benefits to pretend play. It’s a building block to many development skills. 🙂

    1. Christy Avatar

      I am glad that my post brought back some great memories for you Alexandra.

  3. Roslyn Tanner Evans Avatar

    Great post. I remember writing a paper about the world of play and its importance in child development. I encouraged my children to imagine and believe it helped spur my daughter’s creativity. My son was more of the builder and playing with legos, erector sets, Lincoln logs helped develop his skill set. Playing with my grandkids any game is so much fun and helps keep me young.

    1. Christy Avatar

      Thank you for sharing Roslyn, I agree pretend play is very important. 😉

  4. Sharon O'Day Avatar

    I often wonder to what extent the pervasiveness of computers affects the creative formation of children: while creativity is available at the touch of a screen, having to “invent” it from Square One likely develops other skills. Who knows. But your post brought back wonderful memories, Thanks, Christy!

    1. Christy Avatar

      I think limited screen time is part of teaching them about technology, after all it isn’t going to go away any time soon. But I think it is better to encourage them to play on their own too.

  5. Michele Avatar

    There is really nothing like pretend play to stretch a youngsters imagination. I remember pretending to be lots of things way way way back when. Those toys at the bottom of the post are really great ti start to fuel your child’s imagination.

    1. Christy Avatar

      I remember pretending a ton when I was younger too. Ah the memories. 🙂

  6. Erin Avatar

    Pretend play is so important to young children and their development as creative thinkers. It’s great to see so many ideas! 🙂

    1. Christy Avatar

      Thank you Erin.