Focus on Pretend Play to Help with Early Literacy

Pretend Play Literacy IdeasFocus on Pretend Play to Help with Early Literacy

During early literacy, it is important for young children to develop personal responses to written text. Past research indicated that story play contributes to construction of meaning.  A form of symbolic play directly related to children’s literature is book related pretend play.  This type of play appears to encourage text interactions. The preschool students in the study were provided with repeated read-aloud experiences of high-quality literature and text-related props.  The students then participated in play episodes that contained the following:

  • rich peer interactions.
  • sophisticated language
  • construction of meaning around the text.

The researchers concluded that the students’ self-directed and developmentally appropriate play reflected experiences both within and beyond the text.

Here are 6 suggestions to focus on pretend play literacy:

Curious George Goes to the Hospital by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey – doctor and hospital props such as this pretend play doctor box or print this Hospital and Doctor Pretend Play packet.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury – set up a sensory path with different textures for the children to explore and participate in pretend play.

Sally Goes to the Vet by Stephen Huneck – this beautifully illustrated picture book discusses the trips to the veterinarian.  Create a pretend play box – Veterinarian and print pages from the Animal Care Pretend Play packet.Pretend Play Veterinarian Ideas from Growing Play

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper – this book about the train who believed in himself is a classic.  Follow it up with a pretend play train station.  Use the printables from the Transportation packet to get started.

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff – all kids love the sing song text of Laura Numeroff’s books.  Set up a pretend play school area where the children can be the teachers.  Make a pretend play school box and add some printables from the Pretend Play School packet.

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long – read about the adventures of a boy when he teams up with some pirates.  Print the pirate masks and other fun printables from Pirate Fun to set up the pretend play pirate space in the room.

Reference: Welsch, J. G. (2008). Playing within and beyond the story: Encouraging book‐related pretend play. The Reading Teacher62(2), 138-148.

Pretend Play Literacy Ideas