Pretend Play: Cultivating Your Child's Imagination

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The eminent psychologist, Jean Piaget, once said, “Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.” Give a child an empty carton box to play with and it becomes anything but a box. It is transformed into a castle, a spaceship, or a magic school bus. While we may be quick to dismiss this childish behaviour as silly or trivial, studies prove that pretend play facilitates cognitive, social and emotional development. In fact, research shows that play deprivation in early childhood has long-term consequences, including later onset of depression, reduced self-control, shallower interpersonal relationships and a higher propensity for addiction.  

Good old make-believe play helps children to learn by:

  • Developing social skills. It is a way for young children to process the world around them and understand social norms.
  • Cultivating language and narrative skills. Retelling a story or acting out a sequence of events helps them to practice new words and phrases that they have picked up in the real world.
  • Encouraging creativity. Imaginative play introduces different perspectives, flexible thinking, and creative problem solving skills when children are presented with diverse play scenarios.
  • Fostering a healthy parent-child relationship. Children feel loved and supported when they spend time with their parents. This is a great way for you to get in touch with your inner child too!

When was the last time your child had time to play for the sake of having fun? Take advantage of the school holidays by encouraging pretend play. We brainstormed the best ideas to keep your little one’s imagination alive.


1. Open a diner

Children love to play masak-masak (make-believe cooking). This adorable Breakfast Tray by Tender Leaf Toys is made from natural wood and non-toxic paint. The boiled egg even cuts apart to reveal the yolk inside. For taking down orders, eeBoo Best Pals' Diner Pretend Play pack includes menus, order chits, die-cut food pieces, and play money. Don’t forget to leave a tip for your tiny waiter or waitress!

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Tender Leaf Toys Breakfast Tray | eeBoo Best Pals' Diner Pretend Play

2. Have a tea party

Time for tea! Les Parisiennes Tea Set comes in a pretty suitcase and includes 4 sets of metal teacups, saucers, cake plates, a teapot and tray. Have your little one entertain imaginary guests or “feed” their favourite soft toy animals. Create sweet memories with your child and savour their growing up years.

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Moulin Roty Les Parisiennes Tea Set

3. Create a music band

Music and movement can help your child to develop motor skills and enhance hand-eye coordination. Raise a ruckus with your young maestro! These musical instruments by Moulin Roty are easy to play and we love the whimsical animal illustrations too.

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Moulin Roty Dans La Jungle Wood Flute, Blue | Moulin Roty Dans La Jungle Kalimba | Moulin Roty Dans La Jungle Wood Tambourine, Coral

4. Pretend to be mummy

Children love to imitate adults. Playtime activities like feeding or bathing a doll can help them to foster caretaking skills, as well as build empathy and compassion towards others. The Colette Toy Pram by MOMIJI KIDS is made from sustainable rattan and handwoven by artisans in Indonesia – a stunning addition to any toy collection.

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MOMIJI KIDS Colette Toy Pram, White

5. Be a mad scientist

Young children can benefit from tactile experiences like handling different liquids and materials. Have loads of gooey fun with The Slime Laboratory by Clementoni. Follow the step-by-step manual to learn all about viscous fluids, and put on the eye goggles to look just like a real chemist. Exposure to science at a young age increases subject literacy and innovation in your child.

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Clementoni The Slime Laboratory

6. Go indoor camping

Outdoor camping may not be a realistic option for everyone, but what about indoor camping? Childhome Tipi Tent is easy to assemble and disassemble with a practical storage bag. Spend hours of fun in imaginary camp sites. Pretend to prepare a meal with Pororo Camping Play Set, which includes a toy burner, canned food, cookware, eating utensils and more.

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Childhome Tipi Tent | Pororo Camping Play

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