Pretend play expands a child’s world

by DaniGirl on September 30, 2011 · 1 comment

in Reviews, promotions and giveaways

When I first started blogging for Fisher-Price, only my littlest boy was invited to the launch photo shoot. I got the impression that maybe there was going to be a big focus on baby and toddler toys during the playpanel campaign, and wondered if maybe some of the toys would be too simplistic for a precocious preschooler with two older brothers. I also thought that after spending years of my life in various toy store aisles, perusing GeoTrax, Little People, Rescue Heroes and loving all the classics, that I had a pretty extensive knowledge of every possible Fisher-Price toy and line.

I was wrong on both counts.

I continue to be amazed and delighted by the range of toy lines that Fisher-Price offers. From the Trio building blocks to the Thomas the Tank-Engine Bike to the Kid-Tough Digital Camera, I’ve been impressed over and over again. And it’s been fun watching the big boys get in on the action, too. They’re precocious little things, too, and I feared maybe they were leaving their love of toys behind. While they’re less likely to engage in the kind of “let’s make all the Little People Farm Animals have a picnic” type of play, they do still love to set up the cars on the Trio Super Stunt Builder raceway and let ’em go, or take turns with the remote, loading up the trucks on the Big Action Construction Site.

Where I really see the bigger kids getting engaged, though, is when there is imaginary play involved. Give two boys a set of Kid-Tough Walkie Talkies and set ’em loose in the yard. They’re cops, then they’re astronauts, then they’re on a wildlife safari.

Remember I mentioned Dr Kathleen Alfano a while ago? She’s the Director for the Fisher-Price Child Research Department, the toy industry’s most respected centre for research on childhood development and play. Dr Alfano reminds us that play, especially pretend play, is an important learning experience for children. “Pretend play is more than fun—it helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills and strengthens social and communication skills, as well. It lets your child “try on” endless new roles and new ways of looking at the world, which helps build empathy and imagination.”

I really liked these tips she offered to encourage imaginative play. Some are pretty obvious, but some of them made me go “hmmm, that a great idea!”

  • Provide a collection of dress-up props for role-play.
  • Look at the clouds and take turns imagining what they resemble.
  • Plant seeds for imaginative thinking by reading lots of books together.
  • Provide toys that encourage creativity and imagination.
  • Make up stories with your child, building on each other’s additions.
  • Arrange play dates with others to foster social and imaginative play.
  • Listen to music with your child and act out how it sounds (sleepy, happy).
  • Take turns “being” things that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
  • Sometimes be your child’s play partner, sometimes just observe.
  • Use your own imagination and awaken your own inner child.

And you don’t have to fill the toy box to encourage imaginative play. Offer up old brief cases, hospital scrubs, miniature tool belts, kitchen toys, pretend cell phones—they all help children learn about the world around them by making it concrete for them.

Care to share your ideas for imaginative play with the class? What non-toys have you given your kids to encourage imaginative play? Any other tips or pointers to share?

(Disclosure: I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. However, as always, the opinions on this blog are entirely my own.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 OpenSitter October 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

Pretend play expands a child’s world – via @danigirl

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