Almost everyone comes into the world with the wondrous capacity to imagine and if they don’t, we can teach them. Toddlers use play themes that reflect their home life. During the second year, children begin to act out their imaginings in spontaneous, dramatic play. As language and understanding increase, the actions children copy become more detailed. This is a great opportunity to develop language in a naturalistic environment. As children approach the age of three, their play themes include more experiences outside the home. They like to go to the supermarket, take baby to the doctor, or go to school.
Pretend Play Activities You Can Do
- Make a fort or house. Drape a sheet or blanket over a table or other furniture. Go inside with a flashlight and read a book. Pretend you are in a tent, camping out. Watch for lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
- Lay a blanket on the floor in the living room. Have a picnic with your children indoors.
- Play beauty shop, grocery store, or dentist. Very useful after completing a theme on occupations.
- At lunch time, pretend you are in a restaurant and take turns being the waiter/waitress.
- The older children can pretend to fly on a plane and visit Mexico.
- Ask your student if they want to be the teacher.
Enriching your child’s play with language
Even busy working parents can enrich their children’s play with simple props and by asking questions that stimulate their imaginations. Ask questions to lead the language.
- If the child is pretending to be in a car, ask if they are going to the grocery store or laundromat.
- When they child is washing the baby, ask if they washed the toes, elbows, back, etc.
- If they are cooking, ask them for eggs over easy with your toast.