5 Ways to Explore Pretend Play

5 Ways to Explore Pretend Play

Pretend play has so many benefits for kids.  It gives them a chance to learn, explore, create and use their imagination.  The best part is, they do it all day long, no special tools required.  Even so,  I wanted to share a few ways that you can encourage pretend play.Maggie pirate princess

Play Dress Up.  My kids have more dress up clothes than anybody could possibly wear.  I feel a destash is in our future.  From princess dresses to cowboys, alligators and superheros, they love getting all decked out.  The latest is for Maggie and her friend to pretend to get married after they dress up in their finest.  Every costume they put on is just waiting to see what adventure it will go on with the child.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little extra fun, I will get dressed up too and we go on extra special, very memorable adventures.

Cloud Gazing

Find shapes in the clouds.  Seriously, we all did this as kids, right?!  Well, it’s just as fun as adults.  Maggie and I love to lay down outside and just see what we can find in the clouds. It is always a time packed full of giggles from us.


Play with dolls.  Boys and girls benefit from this.  This is a great way to help them to adjust to a new baby, and a great way for them to role play their emotions.  When we are struggling with pretty strong emotions and feelings and reacting poorly, we can pull out the baby dolls and replay the situation over a few times and talk about other ways we could have handled it.  Not only that, but I love watching them play mommy or daddy to their baby dolls.  Maggie loves her tiny princess dolls and plays with them a lot replaying things that have happened in our day.

New Spouts Cookout Set

New Sprouts Just Desserts from Learning ResourcesHave a play kitchen with different foods.  Not only is this a great way to introduce them to different foods, but it’s a great way for them to practice cooking and serving food.  We have tons of play food for our kitchen and I love to change out what all we have out to play with.  Sometimes we have the picnic set out, or the tea party, the farmers market basket or just leave it all out.  We recently added 2 new sets to our play kitchen.  The first is the New Sprouts® Just Desserts! set.  Maggie has a ridiculously crazy obsession with cake.  Any kind of cake is fine, she loves every single one of them.  She saw this set online at Learning Resources and begged for it.  With 5 different desserts and 2 plates and forks, she serves up some goodies all day long.  The second set was the New Sprouts® Cookout!  set.  Especially with all of the summer fun that has been happening, they really dig being able to make their picnic plates.  My OCD is crying though because immediately after we opened this set, the kids managed to lose one of the cups.  We have quite a bit of play food, but the stuff we have from Learning Resources is such a great quality and so durable that I wish it all was from there.  The bushel of veggies is always a favorite, especially when we start hitting up the garden or farmers markets.  They still cook quite often with the My Very Own Chef Set too.  The weather is nice so we have had a lot of picnics.

Just Desserts served

Encourage conversation and role play.  I use to fight bedtime with the kids and wanted them to just be quiet.  Soon enough I realized that just wasn’t going to work.  We started having bedtime chats where we talk about what made us happy, sad and mad.  Then we talk about absolutely anything else.  My kids spin some crazy tales when they get going, and sometimes, 20 minutes later, I have to tell them it is time to stop.  We have the plush toys from the Inside Out movie that we use to talk about things from our day and role play through our feelings.


Play workshop.  Or hair salon.  Or spa day, etc.  Our tool bench is always a favorite, especially when we are using real tools for a project.  The kids will run and get their tools and try to help us out.  This is always a favorite and I love when they continue on with the workshop long after our projects have been completed.  We have spent the last few days playing beauty salon.  Today, I saw clumps of my hair on the ground from the {not really all that} gentle brushing.  It’s alright though, I have plenty and they have a blast!  Charlie gave me a beauty makeover for a solid hour.  The good news?  He kept telling me how pretty and beautiful he was making me.


Just talk with them.  Start a story and let them take over.  You will love where the adventure takes you.  And read.  Reading encourages creative thinking and will always be a favorite reason to snuggle around here.

Maggie Doc McStuffins

How about a doctor kit?  Doc McStuffins really brought that to life in our house.  The kids will spend endless hours fixing up their toys, each other, I get a check-up quite often too.


There are endless ways to encourage pretend play.  All you really need is your imagination.    So, put on your chef hat and let the fun begin.  What are some favorite ways to pretend at your house?



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