Pretend Play – Where to Start

by | Nov 7, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

As the holidays approach, parents are wondering what toys to get their children. I want to encourage you to think about adding some pretend play toys to your child’s holiday wishlist this year!

Pretend play is a fantastic way to encourage speech and language development! Your child may not know how to pretend play, so it is important that parent’s model these skills.

This is my daughter Bellamy doing some pretend play at just 13 months. Don’t be afraid to start early. We noticed Bellamy was very interested in our morning coffee and wanted to participate! We got her this set and she was so excited to be just like mama and dada. Our kids are always watching!

Pretend Play Basics

  1. Follow your child’s interests.
    You can choose something they have seen you do or something you know they would like. For example, If they love animals, maybe you get a veterinarian set.

  2. Get on the child’s level.
    Sit on the floor with them. Don’t be shy!

  3. Show them what to do.
    Use the items functionally so they know how to play. With this coffee maker, I showed Bellamy how to put in the coffee pod, put the mug in, push the button, add milk and stir.

  4. Talk, talk, talk as you play!
    At first, maybe you focus on describing what you or the child is doing. “I’m turning the coffee machine ON!” “You’re stirring the coffee.” “Let’s add sugar and milk.”
    For older children, you can start to advance this skill by adding collaborative play. Pretend you are ordering a coffee at a coffee shop and your child is the barista! “I would like a coffee with milk please.” “Okay coming right up!”


Pretend Play for Older Children

Pretend play is not just for toddlers/preschoolers! You may be surprised how much your older child enjoys pretend play as well. Pretend play gives older children an opportunity to practice more advanced language as well as other skills through their play. Your child may be craving this even more in this time of distance learning. Here are some examples of play coinciding with academic skills:


  1. Restaurant – Taking orders (auditory memory and writing), Payment (math), Cooking (measurement)
  2. Grocery store – Adding up item prices (math), Payment (counting money)

My Favorite Pretend Play Toys*

Head to my website for more toys and books. I will be adding more and more items as we approach the holidays!

Pretend Play With Items Around Your Home

You don’t need to buy toys to do pretend play! Here are some things you can use that you likely already have in your house.

  1. A bowl and a whisk – Mix, mix, mix!
  2. A dustpan and a broom – Clean up!
  3. Toy animals and a washcloth – Take a bath!
  4. Disposable plates and utensils – Eat at a restaurant!
  5. Dolls – Take care of the baby!

These are just a FEW ideas. I could talk about pretend play all day! I will be posting more and more on my blog about this topic and different ways to play. Subscribe now to get new posts straight to your inbox!

*These are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission from your purchase. I only share products that I love!*