We’ve been busy at home having indoor picnics, fighting crocodiles and dinosaurs, beating away the big bad wolf. Etc etc. (And more recently, or after watch Frozen to be exact, playing princess.)
Yes, the kids love to play pretend. I love to watch their dramatic eye-popping action and guffaw-inducing scripts, and I play along while trying my darnedest to fight back giggles.
Props like this picnic basket (featured below) from IKEA always help to start things going. So do puppets and costume props. Books are also great fodder for dramatisation. I remember one of the earliest times we did this was after we read We Are Going On A Bearhunt. For the longest time, the story captured the kids’ imagination and we always imagined the big bear was chasing after us, and of course they love the part where we all hide under the comforter most.
So here we are, having a picnic on our bed.
Kids are busy slurping ice-cream. Josh wears the look of “What’s going on” on his face.
Ooh, let’s feed J some easter eggs. Yummy chocolate, baby J?
Oh no. The big bad wolf (A.K.A. papa) is coming to steal our yummy food! Quick, shoot him!
The poor wolf falls over while dodging JJ’s fireball. Kids fall over laughing.
Whew…Pretend play is tiring. I give up…
I wanna be Elsa. (What’s new?)
What are the benefits of pretend play?
- Helps children to explore their emotions and gives them a safe way to learn how to express / cope with difficult emotions like anger, jealousy, and aggression.
- Encourages them to build bridges between different ideas and concepts, which is the foundation of creativity and symbolic/abstract thinking.
- Helps children rehearse and prepare for upcoming real life events, such as moving house, or a visit to the dentist.
- Helps them learn and develop social skills.
Pretend play gives you both permission to try on different emotions for size, and in doing so you’ll both gain confidence in experiencing and expressing a fuller range of human emotions. – Building Healthy Minds
How do we encourage pretend play?
- I remember one of JJ’s first “pretend-playing” was when he was trying to cook me an egg. So real-life activities (cooking, shopping, a trip to the zoo, or an airplane ride) make great fodder for sparking a drama-activity.
- Read books that inspire pretend play. Try Little Bear, Ladybug Girl Dresses Up, The Very Cranky Bear, or We Are Going On A Bearhunt.
- Have lots of pretend-play items within their reach. Things like dressing up costumes (even an old handbag or hat), cooking / food items, and all sorts of puppets.
Mary-go-round dress on Vera, Fly Me To The Moon shirt on JJ, and The Bandit onesie on baby J have been sponsored by Baby Att. Inspired by the curiosity and imaginative powers of kids, Baby Att’s pieces have hand-sewn details that have become trigger points for story-telling sessions and quality interaction with our children.
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