kids in halloween costumes

7 Pretend Play Ideas for Kids

By: Brooke Hamilton


We all remember the carefree joy and boundless wonder of jumping over fake lava or discovering superpowers with siblings. As children learn and grow, these natural imitations of the world around them can inspire hours of unstructured pretend playtime. Not only can these play sessions foster special one-on-one time with you and your child, but they can also help with the development of certain cognitive and social skills. Playing is one of the most engaging toddler learning activities!

The best part? There’s no shortage of ways to play pretend. Kids can dress up in costume, use objects around the house, or even invent characters.

Read on to learn more about the importance of pretend play, as well as our seven favorite pretend play ideas.

The Importance of Pretend Play

Imaginative play is full of practical and developmental benefits for children. Playing gives young children a way to learn life skills. It provides a safe space for kids to act out big feelings, real-world problems, and new situations.

Dynamic and interactive, pretend play also fosters a wealth of important social-emotional skills, including:

  • Language development – During pretend play, children often repeat or experiment with language they’ve overheard from adults or learned from books, allowing them to better understand how to use certain words and phrases.

  • Problem-solving – By acting out pretend scenarios, kids will encounter conflict and other challenges they can work through without fear. This helps to develop their thinking skills.

  • Teamwork – Pretend play with siblings and friends helps children learn how to work together.

  • Leadership – From choosing the scenario to delegating roles, there are many ways for kids to experiment with leadership during pretend play.

One of pretend play’s greatest benefits is that it helps reduce children’s screen time. Higher screen time has been linked to developmental delays, and pretend play with other kids can help avoid these setbacks. 

How to Incorporate Dress-Up and Role-Playing

Kids love to dress up in costume, whether they’re imitating adults around them or pretending to be their favorite character. However, role-playing doesn’t require special outfits to work. Kids may surprise you with how they can transform the clothes you already have at home.

This could mean trying on mom’s high heels or fashioning a superhero cape out of a spare sheet. Then, use everyday objects as props to complete the look!

kids. inbug halloween costumes

Creating the Perfect Playtime Outfit

Your little one can stay comfy for hours of pretend playtime in Posh Peanut’s toddler clothes , the best base layer for a day of adventures. Made from breathable and lightweight viscose from bamboo fabric, our clothes are gentle and stretchy, designed to grow with your child.

There are a variety of fun prints and patterns to choose from that will help spark your child’s imagination come playtime. Plus, from toddler bodysuits to baby girl dresses , we have options to keep your little one cute and cozy in any season. 

Setting Up a Pretend Play Area at Home

To help foster imaginative play, it can help to have a designated play area or activity space at home. A play mat is a great way to create a physical space. It also has the potential to become anything from a picnic blanket to a flying carpet. Keep a basket nearby with items like toys, spare sheets, old dishes, baby dolls, and coloring supplies.

That said, it’s also important to encourage spontaneous play wherever you are. If your child suggests that the shed in the backyard is actually an alien spaceship, run with it. 

7 Engaging Pretend Play Ideas for Toddlers

There are endless ways for kids to engage in imaginary play, whether on the playground or at home on a rainy day. And remember—pretend play doesn’t require any fancy costumes or gadgets. Simply use whatever toys, objects, and props you have on hand. Allow your child to use their imagination to its fullest potential.

Ready to play?

Here are some of our favorite imaginative play activities.

  1. Restaurant or food truck – Whip up a delicious meal from a pretend play kitchen. You can “place orders” for your kids to fulfill, or let them create their own menu!

  1. School – Let your child take on a different role and be the teacher. Let them act out their dream day in the classroom.

  1. Airport – Draw a boarding pass, pack your imaginary bags, and make sure to get to the gate on time. Then, explore your exciting new travel destination.

  1. Science lab – Set up a makeshift lab in the kitchen. You can even combine food coloring and water for kids to conduct their own experiments.

  1. Doctor or vetA pair of headphones can quickly become a pretend stethoscope. Let kids diagnose your family’s (or your pet’s) imaginary ailments. 

  1. Grocery store – Go shopping with the food you already have in your kitchen, and then encourage your child to prepare a pretend meal with the ingredients they bought.

  1. Indoor camping – Pitch a tent in the living room or build your own blanket fort. Roast marshmallows in the kitchen and read stories by a crackling pretend fire.

  1. The floor is lava - Set up an obstacle course with pillows or couch cushions scattered on the floor. Encourage your little one to hop around the room from cushion to cushion without touching the floor!

Regardless of how you pretend play, remember to let your child take the lead without inserting too much of your own opinions or guidance. While these ideas can serve as your starting point, it’s perfectly fine (and even encouraged!) to let their imaginations run wild.

Engage in All-Day Pretend Play with Posh Peanut

During a day of pretend play, you never know where your child’s imagination will lead. So, it’s important to get them dressed in an outfit that can withstand whatever your little one has in store. Fortunately, Posh Peanut can help.

Our toddler clothes are made from incredibly soft viscose from bamboo fabric, providing a snug yet breathable fit that’s perfect for any adventure.

Browse our clothing collection today, and get ready to play. 


1. Pediatric Research. Displacement of peer play by screen time: associations with toddler development.