My dds aren't super imaginative about pretend play (neither am I!) and I was hoping for some ideas to help them along. So far I've introduced them mainly to "house" "school" and "stranded on a deserted island" on their bed. What are some of your kids favorite things to do during pretend play?
you know not every kid enjoys pretend play or does it. that is perfectly ok. they have their own thing.
or even that pretend plays look v. different for different kids. some speak it aloud. some are quiet. some need props. some dont need anything.
any kid playing with little people, pet shop or their dolls with change of clothes are doing pretend play.
dd has always been an adventure girl. so she has never done any kind of home or friend or family pretend play. it was always looking for something (like spiderman's spider that bit him, so it could bite her and she could become spidergirl) or in the forest, fairies. she is the kind that does not need props. like for instance for a while the living room carpet was the pacific ocean and the couch was japan.
my fav. was her being a dog. i could get her to do anything as a dog rather than a human. the only thing i didnt like about the puppy. it loved licking my face. yukh!!! but the puppy roared in laughter at my reaction.
ok then i'll share some of dd's.
- have they heard the saying if you step on a crack (on the road) you'll break your mother's back? dd had one about the world in the cracks and what would happen if you stepped on a crack and pulled into that world.
- pretended what it was like to be an old bent over gma. how difficult life would be. what it would be like to do things when you were like that.
- one of her favourites still - pretend to be blind and i help her. a series of these. what it would like with one arm, one leg, etc.
- how everyone eats. how would an alien eat.
- backyard with the rocks, bark, etc - a whole fairyland.
My two boys (5 and 7) do a lot of pretend play. Some things they do -- We have a play cash register which often inspires them to make some kind of store, usually a toy store, stocked with their small toys.... they like to make Open/Closed signs, put prices on things, even find little objects to be the money (sometimes they use the "real" play money). One kid is the store guy, one buys the stuff. Another things is they make a fair for each other sometimes (usually when we've been to a fair recently..), they make up little games where they can win tickets and then trade the tickets for prizes (their small toys, etc.). My younger son likes to be some animal and tells me to find him and make him my pet. Making a library is fun for them, they can use post-its inside the books to write down the date or the kids' name inside. When they watch Wild Kratts we inevitably have two kids making paper paw-print insignias for their chests, followed by them leaping around with "creature powers"!.... other tv shows (pbs-type) also spark some imaginative play, which is pretty cool, and makes me not feel so bad for the tv they do watch... Building a blanket house usually also turns into some kind of game, where they're birds going into the nest, or whatever. Sometimes a cape or hat is involved, but they're not usually into costumes, though I think some kids are. Hope this helps. For my kids I notice a big part of their pretend play is having paper, scissors, pencils, crayons and tape around... gets their creative juices flowing I guess.
Let them get stuck or bored. They might surprise you by eventually coming up with some ideas of their own.
You might give them some props to help them a little
- a dress-up box with a few costume items (old Hallowe'en costumes, cast off clothes and accessories from your closet or yard sales - hats and suit jackets and scarves are great)
- stuffed toys - for pretend zoos, jungles, safaris, veterinary practices, farms
- ropes and shovels and brushes and tools - for rescue missions, archeological digs, engineering projects
Give them some problem-solving strategies - like taking turns at suggesting "what happens next" or rolling dice (a "1" means pretend someone new arrives, a "2" means pretend the location or the weather is changing, a "3" means pretend you can go back or forward in time, etc...)
Also, playing games like MadLibs and reading Create Your Own Adventure books will give them some practice at creating unexpected plot twists.
I've always considered my role to be making sure "props" are available, the rest is up to them.
Neither of mine have been particularly interested in playing with little figures, they are more into acting out the roles themselves. They go though phases with the dressing up things but over the years they've seen a fair bit of use along with the doctors set. The toy food has been one of thier most played with things, acting out a resturant, supermarket, picnics etc.
Dens of any sort seem to inspire them too, again anything from a large towel over the back of a couple of chairs to putting up a tent in the garden.
I definaly second the PPs who said paper and pens, mine regualry spend hours making menus, shop signs and tickets to the puppet shows. Ofent more time than they spend playing with them (especialy DSs 30 second puppet shows :lol)
Were you just looking for different "themes"? That's kind of endless....
- safari adventure or jungle explorers
- exploring outer space/aliens visiting Earth
- marine biologists and underwater explorations
- mountain climbing
- archeologists in the desert
- Broadway musical star
- bus driver/train conductor/ferry boat captain
- mad scientists and inventors
- cops and robbers
- medieval knights and dragons
There's lots of literature to help -
- Sherlock Holmes detectives
- Peter Pan and Wendy and the Lost Boys
- Dorothy etc. and the Wizard of Oz
Just a few ideas - it all depends on the kids' interests and fancies
When feeling "stuck," I often suggest that my kids pick a favorite book to act out and then go from there. 3 Billy Goats Gruff; and what might they do after the troll is defeated? Make Way for Ducklings and what will the ducklings do in the city pond after the story ends?
Book loving, editor mom to 2
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