How to Create Opportunities for Learning through Pretend Play

Pretend play is a rich tapestry of expression, emotions, experience, language, culture, interests, knowledge and so much more. Through hands-on, open-ended experiences, pretend play builds your child's developmental skills. 

When children think, speak, listen, and respond in their play, they come to understand the importance of language, how they communicate thoughts, tone of voice, and all of the nuances they pick up as they listen to those around them in day to day life.


Pretend Play Encourages Creative Collaboration

As children work together in their play, they begin to understand social interactions, as well as the importance of communication and collaboration. They learn to problem solve as they navigate conflicts and interruptions to their plans. This is seen in situations where two or more children want to play with the same toy and come up with a resolution that satisfies all parties involved. When they don't having the right material to build or create what they have in mind, they will often work past this by coming up with creative solutions, using other items or materials in new and interesting ways. 

Notch Blocks (89 Piece Set) Play Fort

Pretend Play Encourages the Development of Fine and Gross-Motor Skills

As children move in their play, into and out of a fort or tent, foraging for nature finds and or toys to serve a purpose for their immediate play needs, whisking play food in a bowl, handling and moving stuffed animals or toy figurines, moving dolls into and out of dollhouse rooms and stairways, they are developing their gross and fine motor skills.

Martha Stewart Dollhouse Bookcase
Martha Stewart Dollhouse Bookcase

Designate a Simple Pretend Play Zone to Support Imagination

Having a pretend or dramatic play area or zone in your child's room or play space will encourage and support them to engage in imaginative and creative play. This can be as simple as leaving out some stuffed animals, play silks and Unit Blocks or Big Branch Block Builders. 

Unit Blocks And Rainbow Blocks Horse Stable
Unit Blocks Bed And Nightstand

If limited on space, a bin left out with a tray of nature finds or loose parts and animal figurines can be left out together on an activity table, kitchen table, floor or deck, inviting and prompting your child to create their own small world play scene.

Keep it simple and completely child-led or pair with counting play, animal fact cards or books for extended learning. This is a great way to dive into topics that interest your child.

Treasure Tubes With Loose Parts Acorns
Arts And Crafts Center 

Pretend Play Supports Children's Confidence

Dress-up centers offer a wonderful way to support your child's confidence and development. Dress-ups, storage benches or shelves with bins can be used as Montessori wardrobes in your child's room or the entryway of your home, allowing your child to have visibility and access to their hats, clothes, shoes and other accessories. 

Children can gain confidence and understanding of the right attire for the weather or occasion, as they select their own clothing. To enhance this type of learning, pair books on weather and clothing, or leave out select materials until your child gains more confidence in dressing themselves.

Martha Stewart Storage Bench

Dress-ups can also be used as an imagination hub or corner, inviting your child to select and wear costumes and accessories to role play and pretend play, whether as a pilot, firefighter, doctor, artist, chef, princess, insect or animal, they are given the opportunity to explore interests and learn through play. 

Vanities can be placed in a child's room or play space to give them a place to keep their hair brush, comb and hair accessories. This can give them their own space to get ready in the mornings, just as they might see their mom or dad doing, which allows them to develop practical life skills and build confidence. This can also be a great way to start their day with positive affirmations as they look in the mirror.

Vanity And Stool 

Pretend Play Encourages Social-Emotional Development

Dress-up play encourages language development, social skills, communication, collaboration, imagination and creative thinking.

Kids' See And Store Dress Up

Emotional development is supported as children explore and express their emotions through play, gaining confidence in their ability to make decisions for themselves.

Kids' Rotating Dress Up

Pretend play helps children understand the world around them. Through role play, children will develop a deeper understanding of the people and relationships around them. 

Modern Dollhouse
Martha Stewart Farmer's Market Play Tent

Play tents offer children a cozy refuge, encourage collaborative and imaginative play. 

Martha Stewart Play Tent
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