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Children learn by imitating the actions of others.
The things they have learned really shine through as they play.
Listen in to the conversations they have between stuffed animals or how they talk to themselves as they answer their play phone or prepare dinner. You will often hear your words and phrases being repeated!
Their little minds are like sponges, literally soaking in everything.
Pretend play with toys gives them the opportunity to recreate items, situations and conversations they have seen and/or heard or portray something that is brand new and imagination driven.
I personally feel it is most beneficial for a child to have toys that offer a variety of play.
For example, a child could have a standard set of blocks and legos that can be used for a bunch of different things or they could have a set of legos meant to build a specific car.
Those specific sets can be limiting in the way the child can let their imagination run wild. This is definitely one area we would like to give them more space to explore!
We’ll take a look at some toys that can provide an assortment of opportunities.
Blocks and Legos
Blocks and Legos can provide endless hours of fun!
The sky is the limit as to what stories can be created, buildings constructed, cities built, and adventures found all using blocks and legos.
Children can use these toys to create something familiar to them, such as a house or car, or they can really use their imagination and build an underground tunnel connecting lost cities.
See the potential here?!
While they build with blocks and legos they are also building their vocabulary and math skills, along with exploring discovery, repetition and patterns.
This type of play can also help develop their fine motor skills, teach them the importance of team work, and the virtue of patience.
Sometimes creating something new takes time and coordination with others, which coincidentally are skills that would benefit them all throughout their lives (or maybe not such a coincidence?).
Click here to see a wooden block set that could provide hours of skill building and entertainment.
Toy food and Accessories
Children are constantly around food, it being one of those necessary things we need to survive;).
They eat daily, watch others prepare meals, shop at the grocery store and likely see commercials, billboards, and ads advertising food.
This makes it a highly interesting topic for them!
They frequently start out play feeding you or siblings/friends, serving a delicious plastic piece of bread on a tiny plastic plate.
They will often move on to feeding a stuffed animal or doll and then as they get more practice in pretend play they visualize serving an entire room full of people in a restaurant.
From preparation to serving to eating to clean up kids have a blast dealing with all aspects of food.
This experience can be enhanced through the use of a play kitchen that is just like the one mom or dad uses.
Children love to do what you do.
When they have their own sink, oven, pots, pans, and dishes to practice with the learning and fun meter tips to the dangerously high end! Check out this set of fun toy food!
A toy cash register could go right along with toy food.
As mentioned, children love to act out things they have seen.
This most definitely includes the cashiers at the store. Click on the picture to view the price for this cash register! ⇓ ⇓ ⇓
Children can set up a store with whatever items they have on hand and invite you or others around to shop.
Once the items have been selected, the child can use the register to check them out.
They often come with fun sounds and play coins or money that allows the child to physically put something in or take something out.
The register can help the child with math skills as they figure out how much they were given and how much money needs to be given back to the ‘shopper.’
As they get older it can be a teaching tool for how to budget and how to spend money. How much do you have versus how much each item costs that you want to buy.
The interaction can also help build conversation skills as they perform each sale and ask questions to make sure they understand what their ‘customer’ wants.
Role Play Costumes and Props
Have we mentioned children love to act and pretend?!
Recall the feeling you had as a child when you put on a cape and could totally fly or wore a beautiful gown/suit and descended the stairs as the queen/king. You felt pretty awesome, right?
Kids love to dress up and get into character!
Wearing those rain boots or chief’s hat gives them a chance to be someone else for a moment, to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes.’
I have often seen shy kids find their voices as they get into a character. They forget the boundaries they have set for themselves and allow for fun and play to take over.
Role playing can give children an opportunity to feel sympathy and gain understanding of how others may feel or why they act the way they do.
Seeing the world through another’s eyes can be a great addition to a child’s skill set.
We are helping them grow into happy, healthy, ready-for-the-future adults. It also helps to sharpen their ability to problem solve as they come across new experiences and need to find ways to solve the issues that arise.
These are a few fun ways to pretend play, but there are obviously many more!
It is so rewarding to see children make connections and discoveries as they play. You can see the wheels turning in their little minds as they piece things together and the world around them starts to make a little more sense.
You can continue to help the children in your life learn and grow through enriched play experiences that include toys, props, costumes and other excitement-inducing items.
Join in on the fun!
Kids absolutely love when adults jump in and play along. Your involvement will only lead to more brain growth and play enrichment as they mimic your words and actions.
What fun ways have you seen kids pretend play? Please share your comments and questions below!
Ready for more??
Click Here to read about Educational Toys for 6 Year Olds
Click Here to read 9 Essential Social Skills for Kids- Success Starts Early!