20 amazing pretend play ideas to try right now from Growing Play

20 Amazing Pretend Play Activities to Try Right Now

Are you searching for ways to entertain your little ones besides television or technology?  Pretend play activities can provide children with excellent opportunities to develop their cognitive, emotional, social, motor and creativity skills.  The best part about pretend play is that you do not need much to get started.  You can read more about why children need pretend play here.  Here are 20 AMAZING pretend play activities to try right now:

  1. Doctor – grab a chair and a blanket.  One person is the patient and the other is the doctor.  No doctor’s tools?  Grab some kitchen utensils.
  2. School – provide children with paper and pencils.  Add in a snack tray and a chair and your school is ready for students.
  3. Animal Hospital – toss some stuffed animals into a cardboard box and start treating them for their ailments.
  4. Animal Pet Show – determine what skills you will be judging: best dressed, most talented, etc. and use the stuffed animals in a talent show.
  5. Baby Adoption Center – my kids LOVE to play this.  Put the baby dolls in the room.  One person is the Director of the Orphanage and others come to adopt the babies.
  6. Animal Shelter – same concept as above just use dolls
  7. Restaurant – take orders and make snacks
  8. Pretend Play Library – grab some books and bags.  Check out what you will read for the week.
  9. Pretend Play Travel Agent – set up a small chair and table. Write Travel Agent on a piece of paper and hang it from the desk. Toss some brochures and maps on the table and start booking a trip.
  10. Radio or Television Station – set up a table with two chairs. Divide up the roles – show host, person to interview, makeup, hair, camera person, etc depending on how many children are playing. The children can pick a topic to discuss or just ask random questions.
  11. Pretend Play Ballet or Exercise Studio – check out this homemade ballet bar which would be even better if you put it in a room with a large wall mirror. Add some seating and move right into the pretend recital. Ballet not your thing? Throw some mats on the ground, jump ropes, cardboard tubes for weightlifting bars and open up an exercise gym.
  12. Firefighter – transform a cardboard box into a firetruck, use a pool noodle as a fire hose and start the fun.
  13. Coffee Shop – cut out circles from recycled cardboard and use paper cups.  Color the circles to create donuts and cookies.  Pretend to pour coffee into the paper cups and open up your donut shop.
  14. Spa – offer massages, foot rubs, and quiet music.  This is a parent favorite here.
  15. Architect – design house on graph paper and share your layouts.
  16. Detective– put on a hat, use a small notebook and pencil.  Start spying on people and taking notes.
  17. Scientist – make slime or experiments with baking soda and vinegar.
  18. Bank – use play money from board games like Monopoly and create blank checks.  One person can be the banker and other people come into request loans.
  19. Hospital – patients can lay on different couches and people who come to visit need visitor passes.  The kids love to eat snacks in their hospital beds.
  20. Hotel – one person is the hotel manager who hands out room keys (old credit cards and create some on index cards) and room assignments.

Read more on pretend play:

Pretend Play and Executive Function

Pretend Play and Early Literacy

Printable Flyer for Pretend Play

If you want to encourage your children to play pretend, here are several resources to help jump-start play time.  Just print and your child will be filled with ideas to enhance their pretend play!

20 AMAZING pretend play ideas to try right now