The Value of Pretend Play | Kidspace Museum



The Value of Pretend Play


Pretend play may seem to lack value compared to what children are learning in the classroom, when in fact there are so many educational benefits. Pretend Play is more than just simple play activities, it requires social skills, advanced thinking strategies, and communication. Improved cognitive benefits are demonstrated in their increased language and cultivated social and emotional intelligence. Through pretend play children learn to negotiate, consider different perspectives, balance their own ideas with others, and process different information. It also stimulates imaginations and enhances creative skills by learning the foundation of storytelling by acting out a host of characters.


Pretend Play is also an opportunity for children to learn about themselves, to determine their likes and dislikes, interests, and abilities. A child will sometimes project themselves onto a doll or figurine they are playing with to act out new ideas or express their feelings. This can be a means to help make sense of things and even try to work out challenging life events. Children have the chance to express both positive and negative feelings, and the ability to integrate emotion with cognition.


When considering a conducive space for pretend play for your child, don’t forget the many benefits that the outdoors has to stimulate a young and growing mind. Often children only have access to structured outdoor settings, such as playgrounds, tracks, ball fields or courts, which limits the open-ended imaginative play opportunities. In a more open, natural setting there are a multitude of options to let ones imagination run wild. The difference with an outdoor setting is more complex and facilitates sustained periods of pretend play. Plus there are built in props readily at their disposal. Rocks, leaves, bugs, pinecones, mud, and endless other natural materials are waiting at a child’s fingertips to be cast in their next adventure. If an outdoor setting isn’t feasible then consider incorporating open-ended natural materials. Different textures and smells will elevate play experiences to another level. When afforded a greater variety of materials in spaces conducive to more flexibility, children tend to engage in more complex play and is hence more developmentally beneficial.


When pretend play is infused into a child’s life, studies have shown that children are better able to regulate their emotions and implement creative problem-solving. At Kidspace we value pretend play and incorporate opportunities for imaginative growth in both our indoor and outdoor exhibit spaces. Visit the Storyteller Studio where you can make up a story with puppets or put on your own performance using the stage area and props. Want to explore the great outdoors? Go on a nature trek in Arroyo Adventure as you sore high above Kidspace in the Hawk’s Nest or build your on structure in Hidden Forts, perfect for hours of uninterrupted imaginative play!



Author Info
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MaryAnn Viviano, Chief Operations Officer, started with Kidspace just prior to the museum’s re-opening in 2004. She is responsible for earned revenue development, establishes safety and guest relations standards, oversees retail floor management, contributes to the development of short and long-term strategy planning, directs marketing, and creates protocol and standards to ensure optimal departmental performance. MaryAnn has worked within the nonprofit sector for over 18 years. Prior to Kidspace, she worked for the American Red Cross for five years. MaryAnn has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin.