At Simply Inspired, we love seeing what little ones’ minds can create. We like to say that a child’s imagination is the most wondrous place on Earth! Don’t you agree? When a child plays make-believe and engages in pretend play, they’re doing so much more than simply having fun. They’re shaping their minds, they’re learning hard skills that will take them through life, and they’re shaping the center of their beings. And in today’s day and age, where technology is ever-present, they’ve found that
over half of children aren’t getting enough pretend playtime as they grow.


So, how exactly does pretend play help children grow every day and how as parents and grandparents can you help them thrive? Let’s dive in!


3 Reasons Pretend Play is Important for Child Development

While every child grows and learns differently, there are a few proven ways that pretend play impacts a child’s development in the early years of life. These are a few:


Pretend Play Sparks Creativity & Critical Thinking

Pretend play is different from active play, things like tag or parachute games. They take a bit more thinking and communication. In this, children are exploring while synthesizing information and opinions about the world around them. Because toys meant for pretend play are more open-ended, they give children the freedom to create their own narratives which develop creativity and critical thinking as they work out different scenarios in their head, as well as with parents and playmates.

Pretend Play Supports Language & Social Development

Pretend play is a perfect way for little ones to learn new vocabulary. Without books or playing with new types of toys, how would they ever learn these words other than listening to parents’ conversations or trips to the store? Plus, how their toys interact with one another in their creative worlds also develops social skills and teaches them more about social interactions as well.

Pretend Play Develops Fine Motor Skills

Changing a doll’s outfit or feeding a bottle, acting out a scene in an elaborate finger puppet show, finding the perfect spot in the rocketship for the astronaut to get cozy for flight—all these activities are exercising fine motor skills like hand and eye coordination and muscle control in their wrists, hands, and fingers.


Some of Simply Inspired’s Favorite Pretend Play Products

Part of our mission at Simply Inspired is to provide parents and grandparents with the tools they need to help raise the next generation of leaders, scientists, activists, teachers, caregivers, and more. Through imaginative play, we can allow children to exercise their minds and become exactly who they are meant to be! Here is just a small sampling of our favorite imaginary play products, there are so many more from our partners across the globe which you can find on the site, too.

Finger Puppets & Hand Puppets

Puppets provide freedom of expression that is delightful to watch in your kiddos. Make a cardboard box theater together so they can put on a show with their band of puppets! Putting on a show helps develop their language and speaking skills, as well as their confidence and creativity, and problem-solving skills, as they develop the storyline to share.




Plush Stuffed Dolls

Dolls are perhaps one of the most popular options for pretend play! Playing with dolls allows children to act out scenarios from their life, create an understanding of the world around them, as well as learn more about things like diversity, as not all of our doll collection looks the same. They also help expand vocabulary by playing out new situations and cultivating caretaking skills.


Sustainably-Crafted Wooden Toys

Every parent’s priority is keeping their children safe. And most don’t realize that many toys are manufactured in a way that is destroying the environment they’ll grow up in. These Tender Leaf favorites are manufactured in a sustainable way with recycled materials and wood, as well as providing fair trade wages for families in Sri Lanka working in the factory. Plus, they replant 100% of the wood they use to create these lovely toys! 




Machine-Washable Costumes

We point out machine washable because let’s be honest, once kids get playing, things sometimes get messy. Costumes or playing dress-up allow kids to role-play. This, in turn, can inspire greater creativity and empathy, while allowing them to explore who they are. 




3 Ways Parents & Grandparents Can Inspire Pretend Play


Parenting is a lot of figuring it out as you go. We know how that goes! But when it comes to how to use toys effectively for learning and growth, many don’t realize the impact that the simplest toys can have. So, how do you inspire your child to engage with simple and impactful pretend play? Here are a few ideas:


Purchase Toys that Cultivate Imagination

You want to select toys that allow children to exercise their imagination and create any scenario they can dream up. When you buy what they call “close-ended” toys, toys that serve one purpose, it may not have the same impact on the growth of creativity and imagination. With toys like dolls, puppets, and figurines, the sky is the limit! Any of the options above will give them a world of possibilities.

Use Toys to Explain Real-Life Scenarios

Kids learn through experiences, conversations, and—you guessed it—imaginative play. So when it comes to teaching kiddos about going to the doctor or the dentist for the first time or preparing for the birth of a new sibling, you can act out these scenarios framed in a positive way. It allows kids to work through any fear or confusion in a safe space while accepting and getting excited, rather than fearful, for these events that are so big in their little lives!

Let Your Child Lead, But Push Them Along if Needed

Pretending is not necessarily an innate activity. Creating diverse scenarios, realms, and possibilities doesn’t come naturally. So, pick up a doll or help your child put on a puppet show if it seems like they’re not quite sure what to do with their new toys. This way, you’ll show them how to do it, leading by example. But, once they’re comfortable, allow them to lead! Let their imagination soar and follow their storyline, adding to the chapter they’re acting out in that moment together.


The best part? Engaging in pretend play together is a wonderful way to create happy memories as a family. And that’s invaluable!


We’re Ready to Help You Inspire the Next Generation with Pretend Play

Our team works incredibly hard to source products that provide meaning and value in the lives of families everywhere. The carefully curated selection of pretend play toys has been designed to support families raising the next generation to be good, kind humans who can make this world a better place. Wondering which toys your kiddo will love? Browse the site with them and have them point out what speaks to them! 

June 08, 2022 — Darlene Hancox