Spark Imagination with Pretend Play
In terms of social and educational development, pretend play has some great benefits:
- Social skills – when children get together and practice imaginary play, they often have to negotiate roles and responsibilities and in turn learn to cooperate and negotiate (a skill that might take longer to develop than you would like it to!)
- Communication and language skills – have you ever heard your little one mimic your conversations during role play? Its always amusing (and sometimes a little bit eek!) to hear children speaking like a grown up but it is a great way for them to explore new vocabulary!
- Cognitive development – part of pretend play is recreating scenarios that children have previously experienced, so they must recall information from the past and work out how to recreate the scene. The classic scenario is going to the doctors where the children must problem solve and come up with a way to make dolly better - it’s always interesting to see how they approach these situations and work out a solution!
- Physical co-ordination – costume changes require a certain amount of dexterity and certainly help with children’s physical development – the fiddly buttons on a princess dress are tricky even for a grown up! Kitchen play is great for hand/eye coordination – cutting, stirring and serving up a pretend cake is certainly a skill that’s worth developing.
- Increased opportunities for a tea break – pretend play can be so immersive that you might even get a few minutes for a well-deserved cuppa…well we can only hope :)
And here are some great ideas for pretend play to keep the children entertained...
- Indoor camping – let’s hope we aren’t hiding indoors from the rain but if we have the odd grey day this is a great idea for children of all ages. Just pop up a small play tent or create your own den with blankets and clips add in some fairy lights, a torch, sleeping bags and the essential marshmallows on twigs and even a chocolate dip and they are away!
- Cardboard box fun – its amazing how much you can get out of a cardboard box - if I happen to leave one lying around my children are immediately fighting over it! The options are endless, they can paint and decorate it and then use it for whatever they choose – a dolls bed, a racing car, a pirate ship or if its big enough, a great hiding place!
- Kiddy Olympics – the people at www.verywellfamily.com have come up with another great rainy day activity “Get a little exercise into imaginative play by holding an indoor Olympics. You can line up toy cars to make lanes for racing or hold other races/events like timing how fast each "athlete" can put on all the hats and costumes in a dress up clothes box or walk from one marker to another while carrying a boiled egg on a spoon” And this is a great one to take outside if the weather is nice and add in an awards ceremony at the end where they can put their posh frocks on and receive their medals!
- Playtime in the kitchen – Little ones love pretending to cook and there are so many lovely wooden toys that allow children to explore this (link to our range) but for the slightly older children, let them loose with some real ingredients so they can experiment with mixing, chopping and stirring. The result might be a bit messy and inedible but the fun they will have had will be priceless!
For more pretend play inspiration, click here to view our full range of toys and activities.