Play is both serious and necessary for children. Some children like to dress up in different clothes, while others prefer puppets or small toys as a way to express their feelings and ideas or to explore things they are wondering about. Our role is to encourage their creative play and show them that we value their ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
When children pretend, they can explore what it means to be a grownup, superhero, or princess, or what it might feel like to magically be bigger and stronger and in control of everything, or even, at times, be smaller than they really are.
Pretend play gives children a way to build skills that can help them cope, learn, and become all that they can be.
In this set of resources, we will use video and a song from DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD to focus on ways in which you can encourage and show children and families that creative pretend play is valued and important.
Watch the videos about Pretend Play and think about how you could use them as part of classroom activities or throughout the year.
Episode: Pretend Play
At school today, Teacher Harriet shows the children a big cardboard box and asks them what they think it is. Daniel and Miss Elaina have fun pretending the box is a spaceship and a jungle boat, but O the Owl just sees a big cardboard box. With a little encouragement, O learns that when you pretend, you can do anything!×
Clip #1: Strategy Song: “When you pretend, you can be anything!”×
Clip #2: Watch an animation of real children who are wearing dress-up clothes and pretending to be superheroes.×
Use these resources to further explore the topic of Pretend Play in your classroom.
Share these resources with the families of your students, so they can continue the conversation at home.
When children participate in pretend play, they are developing their imaginations and language skills, exploring new ideas and roles, engaging in conversations that require problem–solving and social skills, and working on early literacy skills such as symbolic thinking. As Fred Rogers said, "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."