The Best Preschool Toys for Pretend Play

Image via Mindi Stavish
Image via Mindi Stavish

Symbolic play or dramatic play begins around age two.  At this stage, children engage in make-believe games and fantasy roles.  Role playing is an important aspect of language and cognitive development.  Children enjoy dressing up as their favorite TV and movie characters and acting out real-life, adult situations.  At this time, children will also start to use objects for a variety of functions.  For example: long objects, such as a bat, becomes a sword or a broom. 

Between ages three to five, children are unable to see the world from another persons point of view.  Instead, he or she assumes that other people see, hear, and feel the same way about a situation as they do.  Children also believe that inanimate objects, such as stuffed animals, have feelings and intentions. 

Between ages three to five, children are unable to see the world from another persons point of view.  Instead, he or she assumes that other people see, hear, and feel the same way about a situation as they do.  Children also believe that inanimate objects, such as stuffed animals, have feelings and intentions.  

I absolutely love watching and listening to a child’s language growth during preschool dramatic play.  Their use of creativity and imagination is amazing.  You will enjoy listening to your child go from speaking in short phrases to full sentences as they develop characters and play themes.

Did you know
* This is an important time for children to play with children their own age. They learn problem solving and sharing skills through their play.
* Children grow their vocabulary while discussing play ideas and different scenarios with their peers.
* Parents can encourage their child’s thinking skills by asking him or her thoughtful questions. 

With this in mind, I wanted to share with you the Best Toys that Encourage Dramatic Play, which include:

Dramatic-play-toys
Image via Mindi Stavish

Does your child love to draw, color, and read books? Help your child play “school.”

Materials Around the House: Set up a play school with a calculator, ruler, a doll or stuffed animal, a few books, blank sheets of paper, pencils, dry erase board and markers, and a bell.

Favorite Toys:
Melissa & Doug Wooden Tabletop Easel

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Image via Melissa and Doug
Image via Melissa and Doug

Is your child obsessed with airplanes or trains? Build a play train, airplane, or car and pretend to go on a trip.

Materials Around the House: chairs, an object shaped like a circle to use as the steering wheel (frisbee or cut out from cardboard), blankets, suitcases and/or bags for luggage, dolls or stuffed animals for passengers, and a large box.

Favorite Toys:
Melissa & Doug Train Engineer Role Play Costume Set
Wooden Train Whistle
Kids Airline Pilot Costume – Toddler

Image via Fisher Price
Image via Fisher Price

Is your child afraid of the dentist or doctor? Role play the scenario.

Materials Around the House: using dolls and stuffed animals, medical tape, band-aids, toilet paper (to use for wrapping up injuries), a small notepad, and a small doctor kit bag to put all of the tools in.

Favorite Toys:
Fisher-Price Medical Kit

 dramatic-toys

Does your child love to create structures with Legos and blocks? Encourage construction play by decorating and building tall towers with the boxes.

Materials Around the House: large empty boxes, tape, markers, crayons, and stickers.

Favorite Toys:
Home Depot 18-piece Tool Box

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As a Speech-Language Pathologist, parents often ask me suggestions for toys that encourage language development. My answer always is “Think simple.” The less noise a toy makes, the better it is to spark imagination and language. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the learning that occurs with electronic learning toys; but it is also  important to teach your child how to play with toys that require imagination, not batteries.

With a little creativity yourself, you will be amazed at the play schemes you can set up for your child with objects you have around the house. Choose topics that seem to interest your child and set up toys that will encourage him or her to develop an entire play scheme. Your child will love having fun with a little bit of props, your guidance, and a lot of imagination. You can also invite another child over and watch the magic of learning unfold.

What are your preschooler's favorite toys that encourage pretend play?  

 

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What do you think?

The Best Preschool Toys for Pretend Play

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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4 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I love pretend play! I just gifted my nephew a superhero cape for his birthday. He’s turning 4 and he absolutely loves dress up!

  2. Jessica says:

    Pretend play is so stinkin’ cute…I love to just sit back and watch!!

  3. Valen says:

    My two year old loves pretending to be a cat as well as playing doctor to her baby dolls and teddy bears.

  4. Phammom says:

    I love pretend play!

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