This post is in partnership with buybuy BABY, a brand I love. All opinions here are my own.
Preschoolers and Pretending
Three is so fun! Challenging, but so, SO fun! The mind of a three-year-old is a truly amazing thing – I absolutely love watching Eleanor spin worlds make-believe. As her mama, I do my best to create an environment where she has creative freedom to pretend and explore to her heart’s content. After all, that’s what childhood is all about!
Independent play is so important, but so is cooperative play. I love getting to interact with Eleanor in these imaginative worlds, so I’ve come up with four great ways to encourage pretend play with my little ones.
Four Ways to Encourage Pretend Play
1. Start with a familiar storyline
Getting started with pretend play is often easier if we begin with a familiar storyline from a book we’ve recently read or a favorite TV episode. From there, we can spin any type of story we want!
2. Ask open-ended questions
Keeping the momentum going can sometimes be difficult, so I try to encourage Eleanor to keep the storyline rolling by asking her open-ended questions. She’s still leading, but it offers her something to think about as we craft our story.
3. Remember there’s no wrong way to play
This one is admittedly hard for me. For instance, when we first started playing with our puppet theater, I was so concerned with getting Eleanor to display the puppets in the window just right. She wanted her characters to climb all over the structure and defy all the rules of puppet theater. Does it matter? No! Is she having fun? Yes!
4. Provide a supportive environment
Having items on hand for pretend play is essential. Kids can make anything a toy (I’ve seen Eleanor make dolls out of crayons before), but having an environment where pretend play is easy and accessible definitely sparks creativity. We love this Melissa and Doug puppet theater for just this reason. Between the palace characters, farm friends, and zoo animals, the possible storylines are endless!
If you ever find yourself struggling to get into a good groove with your little one, I hope you’ll try out one of these simple tips! Here’s to many more years of play!
*Photos by Robyn Thorson