Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas

[really_simple_share]

The following post is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.

Pretend play is an important part of a young child’s life. Trying out different roles, replaying experiences, practicing social skills, and trying out new vocabulary are just some of the many benefits of imaginative play.

Creating an environment that supports pretend play is easy – kids just need some space to play, unstructured blocks of time, and a few simple props.

We usually do a combination of gathering things from around the house and creating our own props for pretend play. Making your own pretend play props is a great way to extend the playtime, involve older siblings, and incorporate real-life literacy and math skills. Keep your play props together by theme in plastic bags or bins and rotate them to keep things fresh and interesting.

I’m sure you have played your fair share of restaurant, house, and doctor. Here are three more pretend play ideas to add to your repertoire. Happy pretending!

Pet Store


Photo by Amy Anderson

Most of the kids I know have a good-sized collection of stuffed animals. Put all those animals to use by setting up a pet store. Will your store have traditional pets, farm animals, or exotic jungle animals? You and your kids can try out lots of different roles, such as employee, customer, groomer, or obedience trainer.

Gather:

  • stuffed animals
  • small bowls for food and water dishes
  • ribbon, yarn, or rope for collars and leashes
  • boxes, plastic tubs, baskets for cages
  • books about pets
  • play money

Make:

  • signs – store name, animal labels, pet care instructions
  • bags of food – paper lunch bags stuffed with newspaper
  • price tags
  • receipts

Resources:


Photo by Amy Anderson

Travel Agency


Photo by Amy Anderson

My eight-year-old was really excited about playing travel agency, so if you have school-age kids at home, this might be a great one to suggest. Don’t be surprised if your kids want to extend this play into pretend traveling, too – pack a suitcase and off you go!

Gather:

  • globe and/or maps
  • brochures of vacation places
  • old telephone
  • calendar
  • travel magazines, atlas, books about places

Make:

  • posters of fun vacation spots
  • plane tickets
  • passports
  • schedules/itineraries
  • postcards

Resources:


Photo by Amy Anderson

Weather Forecaster


Photo by Amy Anderson

If you have a video camera, I highly recommend recording your kids giving a weather forecast. My girls loved doing this and wanted to do it over and over again! After a few giggly starts, they really got into it and delivered some mighty fine forecasts.

Gather:

  • maps
  • pointer
  • suit jacket or dressy shirt from mom or dad’s closet
  • video camera (optional)

Make:

  • weekly forecast chart
  • weather symbols for the map (sun, clouds, snowflake, raindrops, etc.)
  • weather pictures for “on-location” reports

Resources:

What are your kids pretending to be lately? Do you join in on the fun?

[really_simple_share]
About AmyA

At her blog, Let’s Explore, Amy shares her family’s experiences creating, imagining, and playing together. You can read about her homeschooling journey at Early Bird Homeschool.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace

Comments

  1. What a brilliant set of playful activities and props! Very inspirational!!

    Many thanks
    (found you via @teach_preschool ‘s tweet)

  2. Thanks, Amy! Lots of fun ideas here :-)

    After a recent trip to the dentist, my kids are big-time into playing dentist around here – lots of teeth brushing and flossing (and I’m totally encouraging that LOL)

    We play quite a bit of Zoo with our stuffed animals, too. The zookeepers use little buckets to feed them and some of our animals know some tricks, too :-)

    Fun stuff! Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration!
    Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas

  3. My older kids love this kind of play and we are always amazed at what they come up with. And my recently-turned 4 year old is starting to really get into it. She put on a magic show yesterday, using a tinker toy rod as a wand. But right now the star attraction is a movie theater they’ve made out of a big cardboard box. One of them sits inside with a flashlight while another stays outside and narrates the movie through a small corner hole. It cracks me up!

    They have never played travel agent before; what a great idea! I’ll have to pass that one along for sure.

    • Sounds like your kids know just how to let their creativity flow – what fun! We have been treated to a few magic shows around here, too – so adorable.

      Hope playing travel agency is a hit at your house! :)

  4. I, too, believe that a dramatic play area is very important. I run a free drop in program for families with children birth to 5. One of the busiest areas is the dramatic play.
    At the moment we are having fun at the airport and flying the plane. A lot of the families are heading off on trips or are just getting back so it’s a great way to help prepare their child or reinforce the experience.
    http://strongstart.blogspot.com/2011/02/airport-dramatic-play.html
    http://strongstart.blogspot.com/2011/01/grocery-store-play-and-real.html
    http://strongstart.blogspot.com/2010/10/pumpkin-patch.html
    Those are a few of a dramatic play areas this year.
    Maureen´s latest post: National Flag Day Canada

  5. I love how easy and fun these ideas are, and I am sure my kids will too!
    Julia´s latest post: Mighty Good Molasses Muffins

  6. My son is three. He pretends he is someone else every day and I have to be too. If anyone dares to call him by his real name they are corrected by him “actually I’m blue (from blue’s clues) or sonic” or whomever he is that day. he even dreams it or at least calls me those names while talking in his sleep. It gets old. Especially since every time I respond to him he wants me to use whichever name he is. “say you cant have soda blue” I do appreciate he has a great imagination but sometimes I just want to be momma.
    Nina´s latest post: adult book reviews 21611

  7. I like to save old checks, credit cards and keys- even cell phones for a while before we recycle- kids love to play with REAL things!
    priest’s wife´s latest post: Garlic- je taime

  8. What great ideas. And I love how the children’s creativity can shine. Too often, I go to educational toy stores and wish I could buy everything for them so they can play more creatively, but these ideas remind me that sometimes you just need what you have.

    It makes me want to dig in my heels a little more and turn off the TV more often.

  9. What fun! I featured your post on my Counting Coconuts Facebook page. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas!

  10. This is such a great post, my kids and I love to pretend play together. Some of our favorites include the library: the each have a card and we set up our books to scan on our checkout (computer). We even have made bookmarks since we get them at the library! We also like the shoe store. Pull out all our shoes and set them up along with price tags. It is fun to watch my daughter in my husband’s shoes or my son trying on my heels! What a hoot. We add bags and play money. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  11. Hi, here are weather symbols with lego duplo bricks.
    http://www.buildingexamples.com/special-projects/weather-calendar
    The toddler will learn the weather and create motoric skills.

  12. i love the {pet store} idea. my four year old is totally into pretending to go to the pet store..i love the crates and the bags of food!! we will totally be doing this:)
    melissa´s latest post: -tutus- minnie mouse- chic-fil-a OH MY!-

  13. Amy! I love these ideas. My 2.5 year old is obsessed with pretending we’re traveling to visit family members, and I can imagine the travel agency ideas will come in handy as she grows older. The weather forecaster idea is one that would have never crossed my mind — I love it. We barely watch TV, but this looks like so much fun, I may just have to turn the TV on in the morning just so she can get inspired. And what a great way to teach kids about the days of the week, calendars, the passing of time, and predictions!

  14. I love this. Came over from Tsh’s newsletter. As I type this my 8 year old is talking on the phone with a customer in her toy/art store that is set up in the living room. This kind of play is so much fun and my kids love it best when I participate, visit their museum, shop in their store, etc… I like to ham it up and act the part and they just get a great hoot from that!

  15. WOW! These are great ideas! My sister surprised my daughter with a mailbox and she has had a blast “mailing” her postcards and playing with the stamps.
    Just Plain Joy´s latest post: My Happiness Project- Living Healthy

  16. LOVE the pet shop! I’ll have to try that one with my little munchkin… she loves going to the real pet store, so creating her own would be fun! And I can put all those stuffed animals to good use… Love the post, thanks!

    Read Hillary’s latest post here: http://www.kidscommunicate.wordpress.com
    Giving parents the tools they need to build their child’s communication skills.

  17. Woke up and read this morning with my nine year old. She was all set for the rest of the day. She picked three countries and researched them and made travel brochures. Her sister and her off to each country exploring the place to see in the brochures. Don’t forget the passport. This has been hours of creative play, thank you so much!!!!!

  18. Wow! What great ideas for pretend play. I shared your pet store idea on our facebook page, giving you the proper credit, of course.

  19. i love your ideas. i was doing an assignment for my childcare course on the cognitive development of small children and had to find creative pretend play activities and i found some right here. Thanks your ideas are very creative.

  20. Going to collect what we can for the Weather forcaster Center.

    Just finished gathering up stuff for day care. THEY LOVE IT. Did a blog post about it, if you want to see what we did. Super simple though, because everyone has dolls. But I also printed forms for them to use.

    I love centers.

  21. I once worked with a preschool teacher who used to have a bunch of these type of kits in her closet. As soon as she saw the kids showing an interest in one of those topics out would come that particular kit. Its probably a great idea to include the kids in getting these kits together as well.
    Faigie´s latest post: crafts kits

  22. I absolutely LOVE the pet store idea! I’m pretty sure my 3.5 year old would be into this. I’ll have to try it soon!

    She’s really just on the cusp of doing pretend play like this. Right now she really enjoys “pretending” scenes from some of her favorite children’s books.

    I did a blog post about it here: http://www.multiplerealitiesblog.com/2012/06/painting-a-shoebox-city.html

    Thanks again for your great inspiration, Amy!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Continue reading this post at Simple Kids…. Cancel reply [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simple Kids and Amy Anderson, Irishgal99. Irishgal99 said: Great playtime ideas! RT @Lets_Explore: I'm posting @SimpleKids today – come say hi! Creative Props for Pretend Play http://bit.ly/iipC6X [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sophie Zollmann, Early Childhood, Rebecca Cooper, Susan Heid, The Parent Center and others. The Parent Center said: Your little ones can be travel agents, pet shop owners, weather forecasters and more with these creative, easy to… http://fb.me/vurflWti [...]

  4. [...] ~Amy Anderson in “Creative Props for Pretend Play” on Simple Kids [...]

  5. [...] Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas {Simple Kids} [...]

  6. [...] I just found another great blog called “Simple Kids, parenting uncomplicated” and I am loving it. They have some guest writers that have great ideas and great articles. Particularly in this difficult time of year, this article was great since we’re force to play inside while the weather is still cold! Check it out here. [...]

  7. [...] …with her own travel desk and the paraphernalia – the globe, the travel brochures, the souvenirs, the magazines, the calculator, calendar and what have you. The inspiration for this playful activity came from a post by Amy Anderson on Simple Kids. [...]

  8. [...] Get Back to the Basics. Toys that beep and flash are fun, and definitely have their place, but they don’t build creative thinkers the way sticks, tubes, blocks, dolls, office supplies, sand, and water do. Spend some time watching your child play and take a quick inventory of your toys. What do they play with the most? What objects do they pull into imaginative play? Can you swap a close-ended toy (for example, a toy with buttons that has one or two functions) with an open-ended toy (like blocks that encourage free play)? This post by Amy Anderson for SimpleKids is full of great ideas: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas [...]

  9. [...] Get Back to the Basics. Toys that beep and flash are fun, and definitely have their place, but they don’t build creative thinkers the way sticks, tubes, blocks, dolls, office supplies, sand, and water do. Spend some time watching your child play and take a quick inventory of your toys. What do they play with the most? What objects do they pull into imaginative play? Can you swap a close-ended toy (for example, a toy with buttons that has one or two functions) with an open-ended toy (like blocks that encourage free play)? This post by Amy Anderson for SimpleKids is full of great ideas: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas [...]

  10. [...] is a great post from the Simple Kids archives on pretend play with some more ideas for props to [...]

  11. [...] Now you can have a birthday party, tea party, build a robot and style your hair – without all the usual play props. Using your iPad, parents looking to incorporate at-home speech and language therapy activities, [...]

  12. [...] you travel, your child may enjoy pretending that he or she is taking a trip or setting up a travel agency. This does wonders for building excitement (as seen in these [...]

  13. [...] Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas [...]

  14. [...] Pretend Play Pet Shop Idea by simplekids.net [...]

  15. […] Using decals or a permanent marker, make a “Choosy” logo on the window … Once children are aware of the disappearing shade, most will want it to happen … Creative Props for Pretend Play | Simple Kids […]

  16. […] a few slight adjustments, and you have a pet store like the one featured here by Simple Kids!  Way to extend the […]

  17. […] Toys that beep and flash are fun, and definitely have their place, but they don’t build creative thinkers the way sticks, tubes, blocks, dolls, office supplies, sand, and water do. Spend some time watching your child play and take a quick inventory of your toys. What do they play with the most? What objects do they pull into imaginative play? Can you swap a close-ended toy (for example, a toy with buttons that has one or two functions) with an open-ended toy (like blocks that encourage free play)? This post by Amy Anderson for SimpleKids is full of great ideas: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas […]

  18. […] food bags and some crayons to decorate them. Bring out the stuffed animals and let the play begin. Simple Kids encourages pretend play that mimics real life experiences to work on social […]

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