GPP: Supporting Creativity & Pretend Play

Is Your Child Care Program Supporting Creativity and Pretend Play in the Classroom?

DSC_0541Pretend play, also called dramatic or creative play, is how children learn best. In this kind of play, children often imitate life which allows them to work on important soft skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, how to listen to instructions and develop confidence. Early child experts believe, and research has shown, that developing these abilities play just as significant of a role in being kindergarten-ready and attaining success later in life as focusing on literacy and numeracy.

Dramatic play is usually child-led but can be framed by an adult and encouraged by ready materials in the classroom, or at home. The best materials are the ones that mirror everyday life: clothes, handbags, shoes, fabric, used cell phones, plastic kitchen utensils, baby dolls and children’s costumes.

You can help encourage your child’s creativity and learning by providing props, ideas, and time for pretend play. Encourage them to role play their likes and dislikes, abilities and interests. Guide them as they role play with uncomfortable situations such as: getting a shot at the doctor or coping with an illness in the family. Ask questions such as: “What do you think will happen next?” or “What if the rocket ship lands on a different planet?” This kind of play helps your child strategize, communicate, and use their social skills to navigate through scenarios. So the next time the couch turns into a volcano, join in on the fun!

Ask your Child Care Provider:

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  • Are there designated materials and space for dramatic play?
  • How does the child care program incorporate creative play into each day?
  • Is the children’s play child-led or teacher-led?
  • Does the program value work created by the children, such as block structures, during imaginative play and allow them to keep the structure up until the children have moved on to a new idea?
  • Does the child care program promote creative play with infants, such as with singing accompanied by hand motions?
  • What can you do to support pretend play in the classroom? (For example, donate clean and gently-used dress up clothes, or supplies for a kitchen area).


Birth to 1

1 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4

4 to 5

Even babies enjoy pretend play. Try singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with the hand motions. Soon she will be mimicking your moves!


One year olds are on the go! They love toys that support their interests: building, experimenting, and pretending.

Play “Pretend” putting on shoes, talking on the phone, falling asleep and waking up.


Does your child care have plenty of supplies to encourage dramatic play? You can help keep it stocked by donating costumes and supplies.


Preschoolers love make-believe! Blocks become cities; sheets become capes for a king! Host a tea party or explore the jungle. Does your child's teacher ever ask the kids to act out their favorite story? It's a great way to encourage pretend play in the classroom.

Need More Information?

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