by Katie Brazerol
Pretend play is fundamental to children’s development. During pretend play, children practice and try out new skills. Pretend play gives children an outlet to explore and process feelings. Taking pretend play outside can inspire children in new ways. The outdoor environment lends itself to new curiosities and different challenges. Outdoor pretend play may also enable you to incorporate props that may be hard to manage inside and leave children’s constructions set up in ways you cannot always accommodate. Head outside and celebrate summer by offering one or more of the following pretend play ideas:
- Music Show: Set out musical instruments, a music stand, toy microphone, chairs, and songbooks. Pretend to be musicians and singers and take turns performing for each other.
- Paint Shop: Offer paintbrushes and rollers in various sizes, along with pans or buckets of water. Paint the sides of a building or a fence with the water.
- Window Washers: Offer spray bottles filled with water, rags, and squeegees and pretend to wash glass windows and doors.
- Dino Dig: Cut large bone shapes from cardboard and bury them in a sandbox. Offer digging tools, paintbrushes, and plastic magnifiers to carefully dig up and examine the bones. Challenge children to arrange the bones into the shape of dinosaur skeletons.
- Taco Truck: Cut felt into shapes and pieces that represent taco fixings so everyone can make their own tacos (or collect nature items to use instead). Turn a large appliance box into a food truck or set up a table to look like one.
- Birthday Party: Pretend that it’s a stuffed animal’s birthday! Decorate a table, make cards, wrap imaginary gifts, and celebrate together.
- Construction Zone: Add diggers, blocks, and toy trucks to the sandbox. Alternatively, offer an assortment of cardboard boxes to construct (and knock down) towers on the grass.
- Beach Day: Set up beach chairs, towels, and sun umbrellas. Toss around a beach ball, and pretend the sandbox is a sandy beach.
- Moon Landing: Decorate a large appliance box as a rocket ship. Crumple pieces of foil to serve as moon rocks (or wrap rocks/stones in foil), and pretend to be astronauts exploring the moon.
- Speedway: Use sidewalk chalk to create paths outdoors. Take turns pretending to be traffic control officers and drivers.