Pretend play is great for the imagination

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.

Let's feed Josh

Ooh, let’s feed J some easter eggs. Yummy chocolate, baby J?

Let's shoot the bad guy

Oh no. The big bad wolf (A.K.A. papa) is coming to steal our yummy food! Quick, shoot him!

play_laugh

The poor wolf falls over while dodging JJ’s fireball. Kids fall over laughing.

Whew. Tired.

Whew…Pretend play is tiring. I give up…

pretending to be princess Elsa

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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Let’s play dressing-up

We recently dug out a treasure chest of funny costumes, headgear, and toy guns. Vera pounced on it like a hungry tiger. Or maybe more like a rabbit princess…

Mummy says smile. Okay, I must smile.

Here’s our budding ballerina…

And now, a zorro-ine. (With an appropriate watcha-looking-at face.)

Obviously JJ is not a fan of the gauze skirt. Or maybe he’s just not in the dressing-up stage yet.

The daddy is obviously enjoying it though…I guess some kids just don’t grow up. 😛

Does your child love playing dress-up?

The monster under my sofa

Mummy, quick, let’s sleep, the monster is coming out!

Oh? was the only word I could muster. Usually I would be game to play along with whatever make-believe scenario she would conjure. But after having been woken up at least 3 times last night by the baby, sleep was an all too sweet preposition at the moment. I flopped onto the sofa, where Vera had been busy building a fortress of sorts with large cushions. It made for a very comfy day bed.

The monster is angry and upset!

Hmm, this pretty much sums up the weekend just past. I mean the angry and upset part. I mean me. Mostly because the baby had been cranky.

We have to sleep now! 

Hmpff. I made a half snort with my nostrils.

Mummeeeeeee, we have to sleep now! Cover yourself, quick!

Isn’t that exactly what I’m doing? I thought.

In an attempt to stop her racket so I could get down to sleep proper, I said, Vera, shhh keep quiet, or else the monster will hear you and come and catch you.

She broke into a whisper, yes let’s be quiet.

30 seconds later, she was back to making her war cries again.

Well, I tried.

Our part-time cleaning lady noticed my woes. She said, ‘小宝贝,你妈妈累了,你进去房间跟弟弟玩好不好?’ (Translated: Darling, your mum’s tired. Why don’t you go to your room and play with your little brother?)

Surprisingly, she trotted off to her room. (Maybe she was also tired of shouting to herself.)

My cleaning lady saved the day, I thought as I drifted off to sleep. I kinda like this monster hiding under my sofa.

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