Let’s Pretend!

Why is pretend play important?

By Christine Hemelians MS, OTR/L

Picture the younger version of yourself. Now, picture all the times you participated in pretend play as a child; whether it was by yourself, with your friends, or with your parents. Children grow and learn through play. Pretend play provides children opportunities to build a plethora of skills including, but not limited to: fine motor and gross motor skills, self-care skills, social emotional skills, cognitive skills, and language skills. Infants between the ages of 14-18 months will typically partake in pretend or symbolic play with familiar, everyday items (i.e. pretending to feed a doll).  

What are some examples of pretend play?

  • Shopping 
  • Playing dress-up 
  • Dressing up dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals
  • Making an airplane “fly” 
  • Pretending to cook

Why is pretend play important? 

Research supports that pretend play enhances a child’s problem-solving skills, social skills, and provides the foundation to allow them to build on their sequencing skills. It also allows children to build upon and enhance their social emotional skills, as well as their communication skills. Pretend play also helps encourage creativity and offers children the opportunity to rehearse social skills and role play different scenarios. 

Toys/Activities that promote pretend play

  • Cooking and food toys
  • Trucks and Blocks (Legos, Bristle Blocks, Mega blocks, Magnatiles, etc.)
  • Doctor kits
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Old clothes and telephone (practice playing dress-up!)


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