pretend play

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.

children play in toy kitchen

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. While wooden or plastic sets will last longer, cardboard boxes can be turned into fridges and stoves and sinks. For the stove or sink, turn a box either on its side or upside down. Color or glue on the burners for the stove and cut out a door for the oven. A large plastic container set on the box will make a sink. To make a fridge, cut out the door and add a shelf or two. For a shelf, cut out two slots opposite each other on either side of the box. Slide in a piece of cardboard from one side to the other and let the ends stick out.

As kids cook in a toy kitchen, there is ample evidence of imaginative play. Wooden blocks might be getting stirred along with pretend plastic food. Sipping coffee is accompanied by slurping sounds. What we see on the outside as children play is only a glimpse of what’s happening on the inside. Just to imitate the words and actions of the adults around them, kids have to sort through all the things we say and do to find the ones that make sense for being in a kitchen. They are making countless decisions as they coordinate all the pieces. This practicing and creating requires a great deal of problem-solving, planning, and organizing. If children are playing with someone else, the interaction adds another layer to the play.

Toy kitchen Christmas fun is a simple recipe with basic ingredients: kids and imagination. What play is cookin’ at your house?



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.

dress-up play

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 kids like to play dress-up and some kind of container keeps the costumes and props from the bottom of the closet floor. Some possible items range from fairy wings and royal crowns to swords and shields. Both boys and girls play with a variety of stuff. Capes for super heroes and magic wands are pretty popular too.

dinosaur headband craft dragon

Dragons need wings and scary teeth. Although these can be imagined, they are quite easy to create. Depending on the color wanted, you can make a headband for your child out of paper. Using white paper, cut out 2 eyes and some big, pointy teeth. The eyes get glued onto the top edge of the headband and the teeth go along the bottom.

dragon dress-up pretend playTo make the wings, we found a large t-shirt at the thrift store. A quick cut up the front to the neck band turned the front into dragon wings. Little Sister slipped this on over her head and arms. It wasn’t pretty but it was simple, fast, and very inexpensive. Since dragons are imaginary, they can be any color. This one is purple.

dragon dress-up pretend play

Getting a still photo was impossible because dragons fly, don’t you know. (Note: You may need to be prepared for roars during dragon dress-up pretend play as well as flying around. How could I have overlooked this?)

How does imaginative play help with reality? When kids pretend, they are taking a slice of reality. They juggle this bit all around and stretch it in all directions. Dragons are fantasy, but having power and being ‘the boss’ isn’t. Kids are often scared and know what that’s like. Sometimes, it feels good to be the one scaring every one else, even if it is only pretend. Knights are another way to cope with fears by being brave and fearless. This kind of play is children’s way of figuring out how the real world works. Kids aren’t the only ones who like to imagine they can slay dragons. Do you ever wish you could too?

Halloween Pretend Play: Kids Plus Costumes = Cosplay aka Dress-Up

Kids have been enjoying dress up and costume play (cosplay) for generations but Halloween pretend play is certainly special. Everyone else plays too!

Children Trick-or-treating

While cosplay generally means putting on the costume as well as the words and actions of a specific character, kids add their own interpretations. A costume, or any dress-up play, invites explorations. Kids are exploring different ways of behaving and interacting.

If we look at the word 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, they don’t even need the costumes. They can do all this with imagination.

Although pretend and imaginative play doesn’t need props, dressing up is a sort of permission. Kids know they are people, not cats or dogs, but ears and a tail mean they can try and eat off a dish on the floor. Normally, kids know if they ask adults if they can do this we’d say no, but they explain they are pretending to be a kitty or puppy and what happens? There’s a good chance we say yes. Would we let kids growl at us and order us around? Not usually, but if they are a lion or a pirate, we play along. No doubt about it, imaginative play is pretty powerful.

Pretend play starts about the age of two and becomes increasingly more complex. It’s a vital part of children’s development, creating new brain connections and understandings. On a mental level, problem-solving, creativity, organizing, comparing, and other thinking skills are involved. There’s an emotional aspect, too. Have you heard the expression about not judging others until we have walked a mile in their shoes? When kids dress-up they are trying to do just that. This is part of empathy, of feeling how others might feel. Physically, brains and bodies are so linked that imagining an action creates a response in the body.

Halloween pretend costume play

Halloween pretend play will happen long before and long after Halloween. And not just for kids. Will you dress up too?

Learning and Fun Bus Activities #3: Bus Pretend Play for Kids

What’s Powering the Bus? Imagination! Have imagination will travel; hop on with us for a bus pretend play activity for kids. Destination: wherever we want. Adults must be accompanied by kids. Pretend play happens anytime and anywhere with kids. Plus, they can turn anything into what they need. For bus pretend play, a few chairs … Continue reading Learning and Fun Bus Activities #3: Bus Pretend Play for Kids

Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

According to Einstein, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” Therefore, a powerful activity for preparing kids for school is pretend play. We can’t see from the outside but as kids engage in pretend play their brains are seriously working. Brains are connecting different bits of information kids already know to actions and emotions. For example, … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

Olympics #4: Opening Ceremony Inspires Pretend Play Parade

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony can inspire today’s activity: a pretend play parade and performance with music and dancing. Kids can be Team Imagination. Most kids, little and big, love a parade and what could be better than being in one? Like the athletes, they can march around, wave flags, and cheer. Hopefully, the weather … Continue reading Olympics #4: Opening Ceremony Inspires Pretend Play Parade

Space Activities #11: Space Pretend Play

As Einstein said, “Imagination will take you everywhere,” so for a play-of-the-day, kids can blast off with some space pretend play. Space pretend play doesn’t necessarily require any materials, but kids might want to have a few things. A space suit is beyond most dress-up tickle trunks, although kids are great at turning a small … Continue reading Space Activities #11: Space Pretend Play

#21: Construction and Transportation Imaginative Play

Construction and transportation imaginative play appeals to kids of various ages, stages, and interests.  Pretending is a vital part of development. Kids will play with only cars, trucks, and other transportation toys without anything else. Well, without other kinds of toys that is, but with their own actions and  imagination. Although it sounds like a contradiction, … Continue reading #21: Construction and Transportation Imaginative Play

Pretend Play with Dinosaurs: Both New and Old

The authors of Dinovember have a new version of their book with more photos. Pretend play with dinosaurs can be constantly new and different, yet based on timeless play and prehistoric creatures. Dinosaurs may have lived more than 60-million years ago but to kids, they can be as new as today’s play. Although the dinosaurs all … Continue reading Pretend Play with Dinosaurs: Both New and Old