Have you ever asked, “What is pretend play?” Pretend play is a healthy way for children to express themselves as they develop cognitively, socially and emotionally. Pretend play aids in language development, communication skills, problem-solving skills and the development of empathy, among others.
Sociodramatic and Fantasy
Pretend play takes two forms, sociodramatic and fantasy. Role play is a hallmark of sociodramatic play, and children immerse themselves in characters. They often imitate or build on movies and books they have been exposed to. Fantasy play frequently involves toys, and children are not as immersed in character as they are in sociodramatic play.
Toddlers love toys that look like their real-world counterparts (oversized play keys, for example, substituting for actual keys, or toy shopping carts instead of real shopping carts). A three-year-old is better able than a two-year-old to use imagination and symbolism. For example, the slightly older child could use a banana or slipper to represent a phone, while the younger child would be more likely to need a toy that looks like a phone.
Help Your Child Play Pretend
At Step2, we make a wide variety of toys for children, and many are used in pretend play. To that end, here is a list of 10 ways in which children play pretend:
- Acting out what they see people do (putting on shoes, applying makeup, pumping gas)
- Using objects such as a banana to mimic actions such as chatting on the phone
- Building or repairing
- Holding dinosaur battles (or battles of any kind!)
- Caring for baby dolls
- Hosting tea parties
- Grilling food outdoors
- Shopping for groceries
- Putting on makeup
- Shopping and baking delicious food
Now you know, “What is pretend play?” It’s an awesome way for children to develop the skills they need to succeed (and it is a lot of fun to watch, too).
For more information about Pretend Play, visit Psychology Today.