What is Pretend Play?

For the beginner… Yes, this dinosaur can eat this broccoli. Or is it just getting shade near this apple tree?

Simply think about when you were a child. You dreamed without limits and anything was possible, magical and inspirational. Creativity was unleashed and any and every story could be written without any boundaries. A cup could become a castle, a plate could become a hat and a box could become a grocery cart!


Typical materials you would find in a childcare centre housekeeping area, also known as the Pretend Play Centre.

Children take on roles and play act, whether that be superhero play, family roles, story characters, Disney princesses or their favourite animals! Symbols and pretending: allows children to act out familiar experiences and real life scenarios in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Watch the video for the Pretend Play tips!

Benefits of Pretend Play

  • Extending children’s awareness of cultures and diversity
  • Establishing nurturing relationships
  • Problem solving and turn taking
  • Learning about roles
  • Extending language
  • Awareness of new topics or ideas
  • Respect for family values and structure
  • Past, present and future situations
  • Collaboration and cooperation
  • Self regulation and task completion

Pretend play combines two wondrous and uniquely human characteristics – the capacity for fantasy, and the capacity for, and need to, make meaning of our experiences.

Susan Linn (The Case for Make Believe)

Benefits of Pretend Play Posters

You can purchase a set of Pretend Play Posters for your Childcare Centre here! These posters break down the benefits of it in each curriculum area making it easy for parents to understand why Pretend Play is so important and also your role as the Early Childhood Professional in implementing these important play experiences.

Visit the Educator Connect E-shop, to access teacher resources and free products to use in your Preschool Classroom or at home with your child. Remember, your classroom presentation is key in showcasing exactly what you do and how important your role is as an EDUCATOR.

Join Educator Connect and make your own profile to connect with other Early Childhood Educators and Childcare Centres!

Dress up and story telling is an important part of Pretend Play.

Where to Find Materials for the Pretend Play Area

Don’t stress. Finding materials for the Pretend Play Area does not need to be expensive. You can use recyclable materials, second-hand toys, donated materials and hand made items.

  • There should be a variety of materials – real items and toys.
  • It’s good to have multiples of things. This can allow for more children to enjoy and allow for further creativity.
  • Families can be a part of the experience. Ask families to donate any items they no longer use.
  • Old clothing is a good resource. Simply adjust the item as needed and you have a costume.
  • Involve children in developing a list of items that could be used in the Pretend Play area according to different themes.

Remember to remain gender neutral and add a culturally inclusive and developmentally appropriate materials.

Pretend Play is great opportunity to have different age groups play together. Theorist, Lev Vygotsky emphasized this in his idea of “The Zone of Proximal Development”.

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