Different ways to boost pretend play

Just as a child’s motor and communication skills develop sequentially, so does their ability to pretend and imagine playing. We have all seen little kids imitate the everyday things they see around them, such as using the remote control to pretend that they are talking on the phone or feeding their doll the way their parents feed them.

You will note that their ability to imagine becomes more complicated as they develop, and their play expands beyond merely repeating what they see. The stack of blocks they are excited to show you is now a palace, and their camping tent is now the tablecloth they have spread over two tables.

For academic, social, and emotional growth, promoting and fostering these skills is essential and can be achieved with or without toys. Everyday stuff, such as the pots and pans they have pulled from your kitchen cabinet, can keep a child occupied for hours. You probably gave fancy toy dolls to your children, only to find they had more fun playing with the cardboard box it came in.

Here are three different ways you can inspire toys to play imaginatively:

  • Role Play Toys

It is an ability that children develop as they grow to understand how others feel and that it might be different from how we feel. Costumes and themed playsets, such as a doctor’s kit, offer a more realistic and tangible way for children to pretend and take on various characters’ roles.

Being dressed up as a cop, a dinosaur, a superhero, or a princess helps a child imagine what it is like to be that character, what their life would be like, how they might feel, and what circumstances they might find themselves in.

Playfully, moving into practical and unrealistic positions inherently helps kids explore and solve problems through various life scenarios. It helps to improve empathy, social-emotional skills, and cognition. Role-playing together with others, also offers a perfect opportunity for interpersonal skills, teamwork, persistence, and communication to be encouraged.

  • Character Toys

Toys such as Dolls, Stuffed Animals, or Action Figures allow kids to create their personality and story. There might be one action figure that often goes on fun adventures around the house, or dolls for girls who must get dressed up for a particular party she plans to attend later.

These allow kids to envision situations in which their characters could find themselves, just like role-playing toys. For each toy, they allow the kid to evaluate the back story, where they come from, what kind of life they live, and how they relate to the other toys around them.

You may see one doll emerging as the leader, while others could be invented by the “good guy” or the “bad guy.” These scenarios allow the child to flex their social-emotional muscles and think about character attributes, attitudes, experiences, and complexities of relationships

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