Pretend Play Toys for Children
Pretend play is an essential developmental activity. According to researchers, pretend play helps kids to develop a better working memory, cognitive flexibility, and better self control. Pretend play is also shown to improve abstract thinking and creativity.
I once gave some paper, crayons, and kids scissors to a 5 year old girl. In a short time, she had created her own pretend money and soon after the money was being used to buy and sell all the toys in the house. In this case, the pretend money was just a prop to open up an entire creative pretend play world. Most education experts encourage parents to set aside time for kids to play creatively, particularly during the preschool years. To encourage creative pretend play parents and caregivers should have toys that promote this type of play readily available to children.
Kitchen Pretend Play Toys
The first type of pretend play toy that most people think of giving a child for a gift is typically kitchen-related. Kitchen toys are one of the most popular type of pretend play toy and also toy makers understand this fact so there is the most variety of toys available.
A traditional favorite kitchen toy for girls is the Easy Bake Oven. Kids continue to love this toy which still makes it one of the most requested and sold toys year after year. There are other food related toys
The Melissa and Doug company, offers some very well-made wooden kitchen toy sets. Their innovative food toys that kids can cut are some of their most popular items. These toys a Velcro-like material that connects pre-sliced foods. A kid-safe cutting tool is then used to cut apart the pretend food pieces, just like real.
Food related toys also usually translate into a pretend shopping experience for kids. Kids love to create a pretend grocery complete with items to buy, a shopping basket or shopping cart, a cash register, and money.
Pretend Play: Dress Up Clothes
Providing children with dress up clothes is a great way to encourage pretend play. Complete costumes or costume accessories like bandanas, scarves, safari hats, and capes can all help kids enter a pretend world and become another character. A great time to buy dress-up costumes and accessories is after Halloween when the stores typically mark their leftover trick or treat costumes off 50% or more. Otherwise, quality costumes can be purchased anytime from reputable online retailers like Amazon.
Pretend Play with Building Blocks
Toy building blocks offer a great way to help kids create a pretend world. Some brand names of building toy building blocks include LEGO, Duplo and MegaBlocks, which are all plastic blocks. There are also wooden toy blocks and foam play blocks available from different suppliers. Kids enjoy playing with building blocks that are part of a pre-designed set, but for the purpose of creativity, it is better to provide them with a variety of blocks that allow them to use their imagination to build their own creations.
Promote Pretend Play with Play Money
For a variety of reasons, play money encourages pretend play with children. Kids love to emulate what they see in real life and add their own imagination to create a make believe world. Plastic coins, and paper money allow them to use a realistic prop that they see in real life. The money typically becomes part of a grocery store, restaurant, pretend-business, or a pirate treasure. The limits of what kids will use pretend money for are well beyond this article. For safety, please make sure the size of the coins are acceptable for the age of child playing with them. Coins can be hazardous to children if they place them in their mouth.
Encourage a Pretend World with Dolls or Action Figures
Typically, boys like action figures and girls like dolls. Star Wars, Batman, Spiderman, other superheroes, Ninjago, Rescue Heroes, Fireman Sam, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates are all popular action figures for kids. Army men are another good source of pretend characters that can interact, have battles, or help each other with missions. Girls love to take care of their dolls, dress them and treat them like their babies or little sister. American Girl dolls are great for girls 8 and older. There are plenty of doll clothes that have matching outfits for the girls to help connect the girls with their dolls.
Find Pretend Play Props Around the House
Everyday items around the house also make great props to engage kids into pretend play. Take a look around the house for simple, but safe items kids can use for play. Old paper or newspapers are easily converted into art materials or folded into hats or paper airplance for an airplane army. A large cardboard box is easily repurposed into a pretend house or a rocketship. Kids can use crayons and other decorations to complete the renovation.