Imaginative play, also known as role-play, is vital to growing your little’s social and emotional abilities. By allowing your child to safely experience adult acitivities like grocery shopping or cleaning house, they will feel involved and excited about the world.
Pretend play can also help grow confidence, overcome anxieties and helps you bond better with your child.
But in a world with a million things on your to-do list, how can you even begin? We’ve put together a quick list of easy ways you can play with your children at home, or out and about.
1: Move your children’s toys to the rooms they’re replicating
Your children love to be involved, and setting them up with mini-scenarios around the house is a great way to get them involved in day-to-day responsibilities.
As an example, move their toy kitchen into your kitchen, allowing them to “cook” alongside you. You can also move their tools into the garage and let them hammer away while you’re working on your next DIY. As a bonus, put the baby dolls and crib into their room. Have them tuck the baby in the toy crib right before bedtime – it may help prevent the standard bedtime refutations.
2: Include little hands in chores
Mini brooms, mops and dust pans are not only adorable, but perfect for getting little hands involved in cleaning up. The little tools make tidying more accessible and can get them in the habit of sprucing up their spaces from a young age. Put on some fun tunes and tackle chores as a family!
3: Make visual menus for mealtime and play “restaurant”
This is a particularly fun and easy way to help picky eaters become more adventurous. Create a visual menu of their favorite options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a few new items sprinkled in. Grab your waiter’s towel and let them choose what they want to eat. This simple and playful act empowers them to feel more in control of their food experience. If they ask for something off-plan, you can simply reply “Sorry, that’s not on the menu today!”
4: Use the mini shopping carts or baskets
Many grocery stores and markets now offer kid areas to help make grocery shopping more fun. Let your littles push around a tiny shopping cart, grabbing grocery list items that they can reach. You’ll be surprised how much this will delight them! This activity is a great way to help grow your child’s ability to follow directions and plan ahead.
5: Take them to work and show them the ropes!
There’s nothing quite as exciting to a child than to see what mommy or daddy does for work. With much of life spent in your career, it’s natural that your little ones will want to see what you do. If your schedule and situation allows, take them in and set them up with little tasks. This will let them better see and appreciate all that you do. This also gives them a greater reality with where you spend your days.
If you’re a parent in the Tampa Bay area, we invite you to join us at Little Play Place for an open play session! Our curated imaginative play spaces are fun for all ages. Check out and book on our open play page here!