Play builds imaginative, emotional, social, and cognitive skills. Play may just look like play to you, but there is a lot going on: problem soloing, skill building, and overcoming physical and mental challenges.
Pretend or imaginative play is an important component of a young child’s development. Most anything can spur a child’s imagination.
Our kids love to engage in pretend play. Here are some of their favorites.
Hotel is the number one pretend play activity at our house. The best thing about this one is that I have never provided any prompts or encouragement. We travel a lot to visit extended family and after we got home last summer our youngest two starting play hotel all the time. They pack their little suitcases and pretend the kitchen floor is the swimming pool.
2. Grocery Store
This is the second favorite in our home. We have had a couple different cash registers. We currently have this one and the kids love it: Learning Resources Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register. We have accumulated a lot of pretend play food and shopping carts over the years. Both of our youngest kids have received shopping carts as gifts, so we have these two:Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart and Step2 Little Helper’s Shopping Cart. When our oldest was younger I saved our food containers and boxes and used them and a basket from the Dollar Tree for our grocery store pretend play.
3. Post Office
We have not done this one in awhile, but when the kids play post office, we hang manila envelopes on their bedroom doors. We save our old cards and the kids use them as their mail. The kids take turns delivering the mail.
4. Doctor Office
The kids like to pretend they are providing medical care to their dolls or each other. Our oldest got a doctor kit like this one: Fisher-Price Medical Kit when he was much younger and it has been a popular toy for all the kids. I also keep old pill bottles and pick up gauze at the Dollar Tree for the pretend doctor office.
5. Beauty Salon
Beauty salon has been played by the kids taking turns sitting in a chair while the other child uses my brushes and water bottle to do their hair. Our daughter got some pretend make-up as a gift last Christmas and she loves giving makeovers; especially to daddy. Here is a fun prompt for beauty salon: Hair Stylist Costume Role Play Costume Set.
The kids use the same doctor kit that they use to play doctor to play vet. Instead of treating the dolls, they treat their stuff animals.
I took pictures of some of our play food plated up on our play dishes a couple of years ago and made a laminated menu using those pictures. One or two of the kids sits down at their little play table while the other person takes the order.
Our kids have a play kitchen and love to pretend they are cooking meals for us. They have this play kitchen: Kidkraft Deluxe Let’s Cook Kitchen and love it! Our oldest received it as a gift as a toddler and it has been a favorite of all the kids.
I hung a chalkboard under a window in one of the kid’s room and they pretend they are writing lessons on it. The kids also put on their backpacks and pretend they are leaving for school. They sit at a table while one is the teacher and passes out worksheets for them to do.
I often can’t even follow when the kid play superheros. They do have some superheros costumes and occasionally put them on, but most often they are just running around doing their superhero thing.
11. House or Family
Our three kids often assign pretend roles of mommy, daddy, baby, and/or dog to each other. They most often pretend to take the dog for a walk.
The kids like to clear off a shelf on one of the bookshelves in our house and stock it with books that the other kids can come and check out. They use old store loyalty cards and/or old gift cards as their pretend library cards.
13. Ice Cream Shop
Check our pretend play ice cream shop here and see how we made ice cream cones using toilet paper rolls.
Our kids love playing pirates and going on a treasure hunt. They often ask me to make them a map for the treasure hunt. Check out this DIY Pirate Ship built from leftover wood and fence pickets.
15. Tea Party
Our oldest received a little table and chairs from his grandparents when he was little. This little table has been drug from room to room in our house and used for so many different activities. (This table is similar:IKEA Children’s Kids Table & 2 Chairs Set.) Our daughter often sets some of her bigger stuffed animals around the table for tea parties. I have fond memories of playing with the tea set our grandma kept for us at her house. It was porcelain and I remember it had to be repaired many times. I found this one for my daughter and she loves it: Schylling Summer Bugs Tin Tea Set.
16. Baby Nursery
Playing with dolls is primarily played by just our daughter. She likes to change her babies clothes and take them for walks in her stroller. She also sits them in a highchair at the table and prepares food for them.
17. Train or Airplane
For this, the kids line up all the play chairs and stools they can find in a line. One of the kids becomes the pilot or conductor while the other child sits with the dolls and stuffed animals in other chairs.
18. Camp Out
We have set up our big tent in our house for the kids to play in and “camp out”, but most often they have little play tents that they pull out for their camp out. They have also pulled the cushions off the couch and draped a sheet over it to create a tent. Their play tent is similar to this one: Discovery Kids Adventure Play Tent.
19: Car Wash
The kids pull out the garden hose, a bucket, soap, and sponges and wash whatever they find when they are playing car wash. The like to wash their bikes and trucks.
20. Laundry Day
See how we turned two cardboard boxes into a fun pretend play laundry day.
This post is part of a month long series on kids and play. You can see other posts featured here: Play Matters Blog Hop.