Pretend play is important for children's learning and development, and a great way to have fun together.

Whānau need to know that children pretend anytime, anywhere. They act out things from real life, and from stories and television.

Pretend play helps children learn about the world and the people in it. They watch what you’re doing and copy it. Then they practise it over and over again as they become familiar with the role.

Look at page 10 of the Whakatipu booklet Te Kōhuri 1 together. It mentions pretend play as an easy way to have fun together.

Ask whānau:

  • What sort of things have you seen your tamaiti do in play that reminds you of your own or someone else’s behaviour?
  • What can you do to encourage the activities mentioned here?
  • What can you do to encourage your child to take part in other everyday household activities?

There’s another reference to pretend play on page 22 of the Whakatipu booklet Te Kōhuri 1. This time it talks about play-acting stimulating their growing brain.

Ask whānau if they’re able to collect suitable materials. Here are some suggestions:

  • dressing-up clothes, hats, coats, and bags
  • pieces of materials, blankets, cushions and cardboard boxes
  • things for playing shops, schools and hospitals.

Ask whānau:

  • Do you remember playing dress-ups?
  • What sort of things did you enjoy playing?
  • How can you best enjoy taking part in your child’s imaginary play?

Sometimes children act out things in their lives that concern them. This is a safe way of working out real fears as well as learning how it feels to be someone else.

Pretending is a way of learning and a way of making sense of the world. Imitating is the start of imagination. Children have well-developed fantasy lives, and games are played to test, practise and discover rules and roles.

More play ideas and activities


Helpful resources for whānau