Encourage pretend play activities with your toddlers!
I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore and am compensated for my work. I received product free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.
Pretend play is one of my favorite parts of toddlerhood. Not only do these little ones have an amazing imagination, but it’s growing every day. Pretend play is one aspect of playtime that I have especially fallen in love with and adore facilitating for my two toddlers.
As they grow in their ability to pretend and imagine, my goal is to help them develop this skill.
Today, I’m sharing 5 tips for pretend play.
Here are my five best tips for making pretend play a huge success for your toddler.
1. Use child sized dramatic play kits.
One crucial component of pretend play is having child sized items to bring the play to life. If an item is too big (or too small) it can be awkward for the child to manage, maneuver, or take ownership of. Look for items and pretend play kits that are made for children, particularly for toddlers.
This Soft & Safe Doctor’s Kit is full of perfectly sized pieces of “medical equipment” for Dr. Kate to check up on her patients (or herself). Kits like these are just the right size for little hands and make dramatic play accessible to young toddlers.
2. Mix items from the real world with pretend items
When setting up a pretend play scene for your toddler, it can be great to add in items from the “real world” to add to the set up. My toddlers have a new sibling on the way so the Cuddle & Carry Baby Doll is the perfect centerpiece to playing Mom and Dad.
To make this “Parenting Pretend Play” space for them, I added in a few real baby care items for them to practice with. This sets them up for success as siblings and gives them the chance to imagine life with a newborn.
They love playing with this baby doll and caring for it like their new sibling. Feeding, changing, rocking and putting her to bed in her carrier are huge hits right now.
3. Find age appropriate dramatic play activities
Making sure toys are age appropriate is HUGE with pretend play. Since this is a growing skill in toddlers, having developmentally appropriate pretend play options is crucial.
My three year old is just the right age for this Pretend & Play Post Office and absolutely loves playing mail man. It’s totally in his wheel house with loads of grow room – which I love.
Having toys toddlers can play with and can grow with is huge in pretend play and gives the activity years of life.
4. Focus on pretend play ideas your kids are interested in
It’s easy to get excited when thinking about pretend play options for toddlers. But slow down and take a second to think about your child. Is this something they are interested in? Is this pretend play set up something they have background knowledge about and can create / imagine with?
Example: our family doesn’t have a pet so a vet pretend play set up isn’t appropriate yet for my young toddlers. Will it someday? Of course! But right now, I think their best imaginative play comes from their life experiences and what they can relate to.
5. Join in on the pretend play fun!
Don’t forget to get in on the pretend play action! Being a part of their imaginative play is so important. Have a check up, change a “poopy diaper”, send some mail through the toddler post office – interacting with their play is huge.
Pretend play opportunities are so important for toddler development
The three toys I mentioned in this post were generously sent to us by Lakeshore. We love Lakeshore products because they are well made, teacher designed, and kid tested. Not only are they fun, but they are educational too!
Interested in more great educational toys? Check out Lakeshore’s Gifts for Growing Minds catalog, released this September 2016, which has more than 200 products – including the three that we featured in this post. With products for ages birth to 11 and 30 new exclusive items, there’s something for every learner!