The best toys for pretend play need not cost an arm and a leg. In fact, they don’t need to cost anything. Here are some things that encourage symbolic play:
Your old clothes: These can make great costume ideas.
Big boxes: always a lot of fun. They can be turned into houses, castles, boats, den, hideout.
Household appliances you no longer need (as long as they’re safe specially for little ones): such as broken telephones, typewriter and the like.
Use things in your house that don’t break or you don’t mind being broken like pots and pans, ladles, plastic cutlery. Add in some pasta, pop corn and cereal and you’ll have one happy kid. My child actually prefers to play with “mom’s” gadgets than the play toys.
Old towels, clothes, pillows, cushions.
Go outside. Make dens. Give them clothes to wash and pegs. Have an outdoor barbecue party. Cook cakes out of mud (my favorite when I was a kid). Make witch’s concoction using the herbs and flowers in the garden.
Pretend fight. Some parents think that play fighting encourages children to become aggressive. But more and more studies show that play fighting actually helps develop a part of the frontal lobe of the brain especially in making judgements and reasoning. Of course, make sure that the play fight is in a safe and controlled environment.
Indoor camping: Get a small tent out. Roll pieces of paper to look like sticks. And maybe make smores
One of the things you can do is to observe what your child likes at the moment and then provide things that would help him pretend live in that pretend world. Is she into pretending to be mom right now? Give her a handbag, pretend make-up, cooking stuff, mobile phones, a pretend lap top – you get the idea.
And now some of the best toys for pretend play.
If you’re thinking about buying a toy as well, here are some great ideas to encourage pretend play. To be honest, any toy can be turned into a possible “gadget” for pretend play. However, there are some toys that can be more easily used as pretend play props.
Play kitchen for boys and girls
Costumes (preferably one that your child really likes)
Cash register/shop/restaurant/grocery basket
Dolls, Doll houses
baby stuff for pretend mom