AD| Having a toddler is exciting, you get to watch them grow and develop and one thing I’m so excited about is encouraging Leo how to play pretend with his toys in the new few months and years.
- Benefits of imaginative play
- How to encourage a toddler to pretend play
- Wooden Noah’s Ark
- Wooden London Bus
When I was younger, I used to LOVE playing pretend. I would play with babies, Sylvanian Families, polly pockets and other toy figures.
At the time, I was just having fun. But there’s actually a lot of benefits to imaginative play. As I was basically an only child (I have three brothers who are a lot older than me), I spent most of my time playing on my own and pretending my toys were real people was something I did a lot.
Benefits of imaginative play
Improved social skills
Children use imaginative play to mimic their social interactions. They will practice saying thank you, please, sharing and other interpersonal skills they are learning.
Children have an amazing imagination and can make up whole worlds and stories in their heads and act it out through pretend play. Doing so allows them to embrace their creativity.
Improved problem-solving skills
Pretend play can help your child solve many different problems through role play, especially as they get older and start playing more complex scenarios.
Conflict resolution skills
If playing with another child, it allows them to put into practice their conflict resolution skills such as taking turns and sharing.
It’s a chance for your child to practice their language skills and talk about vocabulary they wouldn’t always use in every day life.
Imaginative play can help children feel more independant and able to entertain themselves for longer. It allows them to create a space and world on their own and gives them the freedom to express themselves.
Teaching about feelings
Through imaginative play children can learn about different feelings by mimicking them. They can also practice scenarios which they might find hard in real life, such as going to the dentist or hairdressers.
My toddler doesn’t pretend play yet. Leo is only 16 months, so he’s a little too young for pretend play, there’s now way he is going to know what a doctor is and prend to be one, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start encouraging him to play in this way!
Here are some ways to encourage a young toddler to pretend play. These are all very simple things to help your child develop skills to play pretend when they are a bit older.
How to encourage a toddler to pretend play
How to encourage imaginative play in toddlers.
Chat with them
I often copy Leo’s noises or try to get him to copy what I say. It’s a really nice way to get down to his level, make eye contact and do some chatting.
Sing action songs with them
One of my favourites is wind the bobbin up. I sometimes hold his hands and do the actions for him, or I do the actions and try to encourage him to copy. He knows when to point! I also do other songs that we sing at Baby Gymnastics and Sign and Sign.
Let them explore
Allow them to explore objects on their own, let time experience and touch different items with different textures and colours.
Practice taking turns in things with your toddler or swapping toys over. If your baby has a toy, ask for it and then give them a different one.
Use a phone to talk
A classic one is to use a phone pretend to have a conversation! This is often one of the ‘role playing’ things a young child will first do! This is just one of many examples of pretend play in toddlers.
I’ve teamed up with Jaques of London again to get Leo some more beautiful toys. This time I wanted to get him some things he could play with now and in the future in an imaginative way.
Wooden Noah’s Ark
I’ve wanted to get Leo an ark for ages which is why I picked this kids Noah’s ark from Jaques of London.
It’s a beautiful toy, it has two of each animal just like in the story of Noah’s Ark. At the back there’s a few shapes cut out so you can push the animals through as a shape sorter.
I know Leo will play with this for years to come! It will go great with animals in his safari bus which he already has.
Although he is still quite young and can’t play pretend with the animals yet, he loves to explore the boat and the little wooden animal figures.
I sit on the floor with him and let him pick up and touch things as he wishes. I talk to him about the animals names, the colours, the sounds they made and I do the sign for it (if I can remember how to sign it!).
It’s also good for talking about colours or matching ‘can you find the other green crocodile?’ It’s just basically talking to him and helping his vocabulary to grow.
Wooden London Bus
Kids love buses, there’s no doubt about that. Every week when our Sing and Sign teacher asks the children ‘can you think of something that has wheels?’, they always say BUS. A winner.
This is a beautiful, bright wooden London bus. It’s another great toy for imaginative play. It can also help with fine motor skills by putting all the people in the bus. Each wooden character is dressed differently which is also something that you can explore with your child by describing what they look like.
I love both of these toys so much and I really like how they will be used and played with for years to come. Have you got any toys from Jaques of London?