By: Laura Bueche MOT OTR/L
Pretend play is an important piece of development. It promotes social skills, cognitive flexibility, imagination, language, and helps kids process the world around them. When your child participates in pretend play, they are learning the social and emotional roles of life in a fun, hands-on manner. It can stimulate creativity and help them grow to be more comfortable with themselves and the role they play in their everyday lives.
Included below is a list of potential pretend play scenarios to get your creative parent ideas flowing:
Doctor: This is a great pretend game to teach your kids about responsibility, while encouraging them to be proud of “taking care” of someone else!
Kitchen/restaurant/coffee shop/ ice cream shop: This is a great way to help your children learn about food and nutrition, and get them interested in what goes in their bodies and how it fuels their energy.
Grocery store: Another fun way to help them learn about nutrition, while also helping them improve math skills by counting and setting prices for different items being “sold”.
Animal shop/vet: A fun hands-on approach to learn about animals and the important role they play in many peoples lives
Airport: This is a great way to help children understand the different means of transportation and travel people utilize, especially if they have never gone anywhere far from home
Beach vacation: Similar to playing airport, this can help kids understand about travel and the vast and different climates many people live in, especially if your family does not live near a beach.
Baby bath time/ feeding baby/ baby diaper/ baby bed time:
Similar to playing Doctor, this is a great way for kids to foster an interest in responsibility and taking care of others, while also boosting their confidence in discovering their helpful abilities!
Camping adventure: This is a way to improve kids outdoor skills, while teaching them about nature and the environment they live in.
Pirate treasure map adventure: This is a fun way to get kids creativity flowing and help them learn about adventures they can take and create in their mind
Haunted house: This can be as scary or safe as your child is comfortable with, and can allow them to explore and set boundaries in their mind for what makes him/her comfortable
Dress up/fashion show:
This is a fun way to let kids try on a new role for size, and to help give them the experience of “walking in other peoples shoes”
Police man/woman: Similar to playing dress up, this gives kids the impression of what kind of jobs people in their community hold
Gardening/ making mud soup/ building sand castles: A very hands-on way to explore nature and learn about the plants and trees they see everyday
Making toy/Lego cities: This allows kids to be totally free-spirited in constructing what they think a fun space to live/play in would be.
Making puppets/puppet theater: This is a healthy and fun way for kids to express their emotions and feelings, while also allowing them to explore new emotions they may not be familiarized with yet.
Firefighter: Identical to playing police officer, this allows children to try out the role of what a firefighter does for their community.
Super hero/ defeat bad guys and save good guys:
This helps kids understand right from wrong and the values you as a family have, while also helping them feel good about the choices they make.
Tea party: This is a fun way for kids to make up their own rules and find out what it means to be “in charge” of a dining situation
Post office: Kids can learn about roles in their community and better understand a job they see people enact daily.
Car wash: Perfect for a summer day, playing car wash can show your kids real life chores in a positive way, while also making for a fun water activity.
Fishing boat: This is a great way to get your kids to explore nature in their minds, as well as understand a fun hobby many people enjoy.
Santa’s work shop: If you and your family celebrate Christmas, this is a wonderful way to introduce the holiday to your children and help them understand the tradition of Santa Clause and what that means to your family.
Farmer: Similar to playing police officer or firefighter, this can help children understand a job people either in or out of their community hold, while also helping them develop a healthy relationship with food and animals.
Doll house: This is a great way to get your children interested in how a household runs and the work it takes to sustain a healthy lifestyle, as well as be a fun outlet for them to get creative and cultivate different personalities and traits for each doll.
Race track/ train tracks:
Similar to playing airport, this helps demonstrate to children the different means of transportation available to them, as well as foster a desire to explore and travel
Many of these pretend activities/games include props, but always feel free to encourage your children to use their imagination and create props in their mind or with another item in your house, especially if the props are not readily available to you.