Pretend Play and Executive Function

The Journal of Experimental Psychology published research on 110 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years who were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: fantastical pretend-play intervention, non-imaginative play intervention, or business-as-usual control in order  to determine the relationship between fantasy orientation and executive function.  The results indicated the following regarding pretend play and executive function:

  • the children who participated in a 5-week fantastical pretend-play intervention showed improvements in executive functions.
  • the children in the non-imaginative play intervention and the control group did not show improvement in executive function.
  • within the fantastical pretend-play condition, children who were highly engaged in the play and those who were highly fantastical demonstrated the greatest gains in executive functions.

The researchers concluded that participating in fantasy-oriented play may be one of  way to directly enhance executive function development.

Reference:  Thibodeau, R. B., Gilpin, A. T., Brown, M. M., & Meyer, B. A. (2016). The effects of fantastical pretend-play on the development of executive functions: An intervention study. Journal of experimental child psychology, 145, 120-138.

Animal Care Pretend Play Packet

Animal Care Pretend Play Packet:  This digital download includes 28 forms and signs to play pretend: Veterinarian – provide medical check ups for the animals, Pet Store – sell pets, food and write receipts, Pet Show – organize a pretend pet show, judge it and give out awards and
Zookeeper – open up a pretend zoo, sell tickets and plan animal shows.  Kids of all ages will love this packet to take playing pretend a step further.  FIND OUT MORE.

Check out all of the pretend play titles.