imaginative play

Practical Pretend Play for Kids – Magic Wish for Preschool & Kindergarten #8

Practical pretend play and resources for kids is magic wish #8. For this blog series, parents are sharing something they wish could be in early programs. Even if it’s imaginary, pretend play helps kids with the real world.

playing in the kitchen

When kids pretend, they are taking a slice of reality. They juggle this bit all around and stretch it in all directions. This kind of play is children’s way of figuring out how the real world works. If we look at the world from a child’s perspective, they see many different people from the outside. They can only guess what that feels like on the inside. So kids try-on the character of the boss, the bad guy, the rescuer, the leader, the worker, the store clerk, the superhero, the sports player, and others each time they try on a costume.

Many times, kids don’t even need the costumes or props. They can do all this with imagination. But having them is a kind of permission. Having some resources for practical pretend play tells kids they are allowed to try on different roles. While we think kids are testing our patience all the time, they are trying to figure out the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not. This knowledge comes from experience. Plus, when other people see kids in costumes or dress-up clothes, they know what to expect. Would we let kids growl at us and order us around? Not usually, but if a child is wearing a dragon hat or a pirate costume we would.

In addition, props give kids a chance to be hands-on and personal with real items that grownups use. For example, Nicolle suggests having some of the things from a restaurant. These could be order pads, cash registers, tablecloths and napkins, and serving trays. Or, perhaps a gift shop, with an assortment of things to buy. Kids would also love to play with real tools and real musical instruments. This is the practical aspect of practical pretend play.

practical pretend play

Pretend or imaginary play is a vital part of children’s development. Can it be your child’s play-of-the-day?


Marching Orders: Value of Pretend Play for Kids

The value of pretend play for kids is easy to miss; after all, kids are just playing, aren’t they? But as they play, they are managing an entire world. They are creating order out of confusion and sorting out all the bits of information they have collected so far. As they pretend and imagine, they even stretch the boundaries of time and space. This is a massive matching

March is the only month using an action for its name. When it comes to kids, they are all about action, body, mind, and emotions. You have likely heard the expression about ‘marching orders.’ During pretend play, kids are in charge, they are the ones giving the marching orders. That is, they are creating the rules and figuring out what people say and do. They are ordering their world.

Our brains and bodies are connected to such a degree that just imagining an action is enough to trigger a response. For example, when we think about going up in an elevator, our eyes go up. Imagining can also affect our emotions. During imaginative or pretend play, kids can feel both positive and negative emotions to a more controllable level. They can feel scared, angry, frustrated, surprised, or hurt without being overwhelmed. Because at that point in time, they are in charge, kids can explore a range of situations and match the feelings.

darth vader dress-up play

To a child, adults seem to be able to do anything and be anyone. This can be fascinating to kids, and so they too want to be the boss, the mom and dad, restaurant waiter, store clerk, nurse, dentist, police officer, robber, bus driver, and whoever else they think of. Often, they want to be the baby, or a family pet, complete with the appropriate sounds.

The brain is particularly active during pretend play. Some thinking skills are choosing, planning, and problem solving. Kids are using complex language and special vocabulary as they interact with others, either real or imaginary.value of pretend play

The value of pretend play is essential to children’s development and learning. Can your child have some pretend play fun today.


February Friendship #9: Kids Can Make Friends with Imagination

Not every child imagines a friend or playmate but all kids can make friends with imagination. It’s a powerful tool for playing and for thinking and feeling.boy-playingdinos

Imaginative play can happen any time and certainly anywhere. While the action is taking place in the mind, there is also action in the body. If you close your eyes and imagine you are flying, the muscles in your arm respond. You may notice the way your muscles are firing just as if they were actually moving. Thinking about going up in an elevator, our eyes go up. Athletes use the power of imagination to strengthen their muscles and skills.imaginative play
As parents, when we are explaining safety to kids, we often ask them to imagine what could happen to them if they are not careful. In social situations we might ask a child, “How would you feel if that happened to you?” We are asking kids to put their imaginations to work to help them see a situation from another person’s point of view.

We can use the link between bodies and brains to stretch and exercise imaginations. Here are some easy play activities from an article of mine in some parent information:

  1. Read books, tell stories and nourish imagination in practically every word. Get creative and change the action or story line.

  2. Sprinkle some magic dust into the everyday. The fork and spoon can have an adventure from the table to the dishwasher. The shirt in the laundry can “escape” and need to return to the basket. Is the bus going somewhere like the moon instead? The bathtub can be an ocean submarine. What does it see? Or maybe it’s a pirate ship.

  3. Old clothes are very useful for dress-up play.

  4. An empty box can be anything; after all, “It’s Not A Box.”


These are a few suggestions to inspire imaginative play. What are some other ways kids can make friends with imagination?

Kids Imaginary Journeys – New Year’s Word #9: J for Journey

What fun with kids imaginary journeys! Today’s new year’s resolution word goes on a journey with children’s author and Storytime Pup creator, Bill McManus. This is an on-line interview with Bill about both real and imaginative journeys. No need to pack, come enjoy the trip. To start, I’d like to ask: What journeys did you … Continue reading Kids Imaginary Journeys – New Year’s Word #9: J for Journey

Boxes + Paper Tubes = Christmas Fun for Kids

Two very simple ingredients stirred with imagination cook up some another Advent play-of-the-day: boxes + paper tubes = Christmas fun for kids and families. In the midst of adults trying to wrap presents kids are enjoying another tradition, playing with the empty boxes and the long wrapping paper tubes. Combined with imagination, these two objects, … Continue reading Boxes + Paper Tubes = Christmas Fun for Kids

Toy Kitchen Christmas Fun Adds Imaginative and Pretend Play to the Day

Toy kitchen Christmas fun cooks up play and learning for kids. Real kitchens are super busy now and kids often imitate what we do as they play. Toy kitchens are not just girl toys. Lots of boys enjoy playing in them as well. Since it’s Christmas, it might be elves playing in the kitchen anyway. … Continue reading Toy Kitchen Christmas Fun Adds Imaginative and Pretend Play to the Day

Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Imaginative play can help kids understand and cope with reality, so open up the tickle trunk—it’s time for some dragon dress-up pretend play. This play roars. A tickle trunk is just another name for the box, basket, old suitcase, or drawer that holds the collection of dress-up clothes and accessories. Halloween isn’t the only time … Continue reading Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

While water puts out a dragon’s fire, dragons sometimes live in castles which have moats and drawbridges so dragon water play is a possibility. Besides, even dragons must have sometimes needed a bath. Dragon water play can happen in the bath or with clothes on at the sink. We found some colorful, plastic dragons at … Continue reading Dragon Water Play – A Sinkful of Sensory and Imaginative Fun

Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Besides reading books about dragons, how about some imaginary dragon stories? Kids can make up their own dragon adventures tales or we can do it with them. Stories don’t always have to come from books. With a little bit of imagination, kids can tell a story too. Made-up stories can be about anything and happen … Continue reading Dragon Play Activities: Imaginary Dragon Stories for Kids

Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves

In the song Puff the Magic Dragon, Puff slinks into his cave where he feels safe, so for today’s play, how about blanket forts for kids and dragons? Note the box of colored paper is the fire. Another word for blanket fort is GORF, short for good ol’ reliable fort. Making one isn’t hard, although … Continue reading Blanket Forts for Kids and Dragons – AKA Blanket Caves