20 Pretend Play Ideas

20 Pretend Play Ideas

20 Fun Ways to Encourage Pretend Play

Pretend play is very important and I wanted to share some fun ways for you to get your child interested in pretend or free play.

  • Build a Fort in the Living Room
  • Give Them an Old Cell Phone/Cordless Phone
  • Allow Them to Play with Your Shoes or Old Clothing (Dress Up)
  • Host a Puppet Show
  • Have Them Create Music Using Your Pots/Pans and Utensils
  • Use Several Different Stuffed Animals and Imitate Each One Using a Different Voice
  • Make Cookies and Other Goodies using Play Dough
  • Sing Your Favorite Songs Like On American Idol or The Voice – Give Them Something They Can Use as a Microphone
  • Allow Them to Pretend That a Cardboard Box is a Car
  • Have Them Build a Tower Using Blocks or Legos
  • Allow them to Explore Different Art Materials like Paint, Chalk, Markers, Crayons
  • Let Them Pretend to Clean Up the House
  • Play House
  • Host a Tea Party and Invite Your Child’s Friends
  • Have Your Child Pretend They Are a Doctor or Nurse  – Let Them Treat Baby Dolls or Stuffed Animals
  • Grab a Toy Cash Register and Some Items for Sale – Let Your Child Ring Up Items, Learn How to Take Money, ect
  • Buy a Toy Kitchen or Fake Food
  • Have Your Child Pretend They Are a Teacher
  • Allow Your Child to Play with an Old Laptop or Keyboard
  • Have Your Child Pretend That They Are a Veterinarian – They Can Treat Their Stuffed Animals
  • Play with Felt Kits
  • Let Your Imagination Run Wild

As I was writing this post, I was thinking back to some of my favorite memories that I have as a child. The things that stick out the most to me where the times when I used pretend play.

Toy FoodToy Cash RegisterPretend Dr Kit

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What was your favorite pretend play activity when you were growing up?


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.