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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Pretend play - Some Ideas and Activities to Develop Intelligence and Boost Cognition

By Andrew Loh

Pretend play needs parent support and help in sourcing some essential materials. To boost pretend play in children, parents may like to create a space for the actual play activity. Supplying a big box of materials is also another way to promote pretend play. Some of the materials that could help boost pretend play in children may include the following:

  • Teacher kit containing a blackboard, duster, pencils, chalk, books, notes, texts, table, chairs and other materials that are usually used in a classroom.

  • Pretend play Doctor kits containing play and artificial stethoscope, aprons, syringes, bottles, forceps, bandages, thermometer and others

  • Pretend play home building kits

  • Kitchen kits containing all those items that are used in an actual kitchen

  • Large plastic crates, blocks, or boxes to create an artificial room

  • Painting and writing tools

  • Phones, phone books and magazines

  • Garden and outdoor tools

  • Barbie and other types of dolls

  • Zoo materials

  • Beauty shops materials

  • Travel materials

Note: Pretend play sessions are also possible without using the above-mentioned tools.

Playing with others and playing alone

Children can pretend play with others either at home or in a school setting. Children learn how to pretend play with other children because it provides them an opportunity to learn many new things like:

  • Team building

  • Collaboration

  • Sharing joy and sorrow apart from materials

  • Exploring possibilities and options

  • Decision making

  • Exploring surrounding

  • Decision making

  • Goal setting

  • Sharing experiences with other children

  • Negotiating skills

  • Finding out solutions and improvising them

  • Developing motivation and success handling skills

Note: At home, children may play together or play as alone. Playing alone is a restricted adventure although it provides an opportunity for the child to self-introspect. He or she can choose and select own materials to play. Children playing alone need constant support from their parents.

Some of the most common activities for pretend activities are as follows:

Children tea party

Children often pretend play to conduct a tea party with teddies and dollies. They may like to prepare teas for their guests and serve them along with cookies and biscuits. They may also arrange a range of other toys to make them guests. Tea will be served to these guests and cookies given out in plates. Even, parents can join the party by asking their children to serve them hot tea and cookies. Parents may introduce model play sequences like making actions and showing reactions (serving, drinking, and blowing the tea to cool it down and others). As the complexity of the play increases, children will learn a variety of sills.

Dressing up and making action play

Children may learn how to dress up characters and toys. For this, they need plenty of materials like ice cream containers, shoe boxes, empty tin cans, robes, clothing, hats, shoes, shawls, old suit cases, paper bags, cardboard materials etc. They can create their own patterns, shapes, products and dressed up toys to play and pretend.

Playing doctor and patient

This is one of the best and most used pretend play method in the world. This is a team game as someone will play as doctor while others would play as patients. With this game, children would learn empathy, care and affection for others. This play also enhances children's ability to think beyond normal and this would boost cognition and imaginative thinking.

Drama and action plays

Some children are known to produce and conduct their own drama plays in a team. A drama session involves creating a script, developing a dialogue, delivering dialogue through action and communicating with other children on the stage. This pretend play helps children develop confidence and public posture by removing scare and fright. It also helps them develop speaking skills and vocabulary.

Playing fairy characters

Young girls love to play by using dolls and Barbie. The learn how to dress up their toys and dolls with the dress materials provided within the box. The can learn how to comb hair, arrange cloth, wear shows for the toys and converse them with fictitious dialogues. When played in union with other girls, they can learn team building, cooperation and imagination.

Children create their pretend play sessions based on their necessities. Children, with their heightened curiosity level, can easily use their brain to arrive at highly complex pretend play sessions that can baffle even the adults. In essence, they are highly creative and task oriented. What they need is constant encouragement and motivation boost from their parents.

Featured Resource

Pretend Play in Childhood: Foundation of Adult Creativity
By Sandra Walker Russ

Sandra W. Russ reviews the theory and research on pretend play and creativity, arguing that pretend play in childhood provides a foundation for adult creativity. She describes cognitive and affective processes involved in play and creativity, as well as the possible evolutionary purposes of play and its cultural variations.

In particular, she highlights the importance of pretend play in helping children to access emotional memories and fantasies and presents interventions designed to encourage children s creativity.


Featured Resource


Child Development

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