25 Easy Pretend Play Ideas

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easy pretend play ideas

Pretend play is one of the essential preschool activities for children. When I would meet a new student who did not know how to engage in pretend play my heart would sink and immediately I’d run through all my ideas in my head to see which would spark their interest and open the door to a world of limitless possibilities. That is what pretend play is, but that isn’t why it’s so important. Kids aren’t just living in what many adults would call a fantasy world, instead most of their play has deep roots in reality, and it offers them a chance to practice social situations, adult roles and even play out fears and anxiety in a safe place.

See why it’s so important?

Still starting this journey can be hard for families so below I have some easy to set up scenarios and easy to make props serve as launching pads. Don’t make the boundaries too rigid, just use these ideas to set the scene and let your child run with it, you sit back and play along. There is no need for specific goals – just play. Trust me they are learning more than we think they are.

  1. Superhero Props & Play
  2. Playdough Cupcake Bakery
  3. Vet Clinic
  4. Laundry Basket Sail Boat
  5. Airplane Voyage
  6. Princess Wand
  7. Pretend Play Elevator
  8. Robot Costume
  9. Weather Man
  10. Pizza Parlor Play
  11. Music Stand for Kid Concerts
  12. Kitchen Camp Out
  13. Cowboy Vest
  14. Pretend Play Art Gallery
  15. Coffee Shop Play
  16. Cereal Box Laptop
  17. Fire Truck
  18. Restaurant Play
  19. Science Lab
  20. Bubble Wand Lightsabre
  21. Library Play
  22. Knight’s Shield
  23. Santa’s Workshop – Be An Elf!
  24. Grocery Store Play.
  25. Post Office Play.

These are just our favorites. Browse through all our Pretend Play Ideas Here.

What does your child like to pretend to be?

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  1. says

    Love this list – thanks! We recently made a time travel machine out of a big printer box. It is a current favourite. My daughter is going to exotic places like China, Hawaii, and Princess Fairy Land.

  2. says

    GREAT post! You always have such creative ideas! I will definitely be trying some of these with my own babes. Thanks 🙂

    In our house we are generally a family of dogs! My preschooler rarely leaves the house without his tail attached, (literally!) and is always taking us on some kind of exciting doggy adventure!
    My favorite is when he gets the kids at the playground involved, though! Have you ever seen a line of kids barking up the slide???
    His baby brother (19 months) is into all things “AGHH!” (dinosaurs, lions, monsters) and spends more time clomping around on his hands and knees “AGHH”-ing than playing with any of the toys we have. His brother has taught him well!

  3. Kelly K says

    My 19month old daughter goes to work! She grabs her purse(an old purse of mine), her car keys, and kisses me “goodbye”. She then goes to the front door and hides behind our rocking chair for a few minutes. Then comes home. She kisses me “hello” and tells me all about her day at work. It is so cute and fun. Daddy does that too everyday, so we play this pretend play at least once a day. She also is a very good doctor and chef. I love that she has a good imagination! I love to play along! Thank you for the list of some more ideas I can share with her as she gets older!

  4. says

    I love those ideas. My daughters current favorite is office. she will set up a fake office in the living room and take calls. she likes to be either and insurance agent or she says a “a person who makes people happy”. She will literally sit there all day playing on our old laptop and paper and a fake phone. I think it is a good way to learn to be in the real world early. She said when she gets off from the office she might consider playing restaurant, but she said she might have to work late everyday. Thanks again for creative inspiration!


  1. […] Intentional, Thematic Pretend Play Pretend play requires much more than imagination. Children, even in elementary, need to pretend play. It builds cognitive flexibility, increases self-control, improves vocabulary, strengthens resiliency, and encourages problem solving. (Among other things.) Sometimes all you need to give your kids is an idea, a few props, and some background information about the topic. Here are lots of pretend play ideas on Imagination Soup, great ideas on Childhood 101, and  25 easy ideas from No Time for Flashcards. […]

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