Imaginative play, also known as pretend play is sometimes thought of by adults as children playing in a fantasy world. The reality is however, often quite the opposite. Rather than delving into a strange world with fictional characters, imaginative play sees children take part and practise real social situations. In fact this can even extend to situations they may find challenging. And it is for this very reason that this type of play is so important.
The options for imaginative play are be endless. So we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 to get you started.
Give your child the opportunity to shine and feel a sense of pride and achievement by saving the day. To add a creative twist, try making your own superhero cuffs.
There is scientific evidence showing the benefits of growing up with pets. But not every family can have one, which is why this is one of our favourites. Take care of an array of stuffed animals with this imaginative play idea.
3. Coffee shop
This is a great one to practise social skills. Whether it’s a waiter chatting to customers, or a barista in a toy kitchen, there are plenty of opportunities here for conversation starters.
4. Doctors and nurses
If your child has a doctor’s appointment coming up, this is the perfect way to help them act out any worries, and walk through what will be happening on the day of their visit.
From book shop to toy shop, let your child arrange and sell items of their choice. Will they be a customer or a member of staff?
6. Ice cream parlour
Another customer facing imaginative play scenario that also allows your child’s imagination to run wild. What flavour will they be serving up? Can they come up with original whacky flavours such as blueberry-snow, or vanilla cloud flavour?
7. Indoor camping
Since our weather can oftentimes be unpredictable, try using objects around the house to have an indoor camping day. Sing songs, pretend to roast marshmallows and even make a fort.
8. Post Office
The perfect opportunity to practise the art of sorting. The possibilities are endless; sorting letters by size, colour, weight, etc. And for older children, they could even use this opportunity to write pretend letters and deliver it themselves.
9. Toy kitchen
Whether it’s a 2 Michelin star restaurant or a local coffee shop, children flourish when given time in a toy kitchen. Sit back and watch what kind of role they take on - is their toy kitchen a calm and well run machine, or would Gordon Ramsay have something to say about the way it’s run?
Although we might not be able to fly into space at the drop of a hat (yet!), help your children make their own space suits and watch how they bounce and float around their own space station.
Imaginative play has many benefits, and if nothing else, it’s great fun and very entertaining to see our children explore and take on different roles and characteristics for a couple of hours.