Mae has loved pretend for almost half her life now. But in the past six months, from 2-2.5 years old, imaginative play has increased even more. It’s really all she does. I never know when she wakes up if I’m a mermaid or a baby for the day. Living with Mae is a little like tripping acid. The dog can jump in my lap and suddenly we are all dogs. A stick can become a fishing pole, and a leaf is a trout, and a storm is rocking our boat, and mommy is just trying to drink her coffee.
I love, love, love her imaginative play. I’m a creative person. I also loved pretend as as child and even had an imaginary friend.
But it is difficult for me to play pretend for long periods of time like Mae. I do not have her stamina for suspending disbelief, for ignoring the dishes and a dog that wants to go out. So I play with her in spurts, and coming up with new scenarios also helps me to stick with it. She could play “mommy and baby” all day long, every day, so I have to try and vary our pretend play.
Here are some of our “games”:
- Library. I put pieces of paper insides library books and we use Mae’s Melissa and Doug stamp kit to stamp the paper and “check out” books. I also give her a plastic card from my wallet to pretend is her library card. She loves this, and I do too.
- Cooking. I give her a big bowl and let her pour random ingredients in there. We have a learning tower, so she can “stand” at the kitchen counter. We mix water, sugar, spices, food coloring. This actually turned into a good way to start learning how colors change when mixed together.
- Doctor/Veterinarian: A classic. We have this kit and she’s loved it for a long time.
- “Turn You Into A _______”: We pretend to be fairies or witches with a wand and turn each other into different animals. Then you have to act out that animal.
- Fishing. Get a stick. We sit in the driveway and pretend to catch BIG fish or little fish or seahorses. She loves to name all the sea creatures that she knows with this game. We “throw them in the bucket!” or throw them back to the sea.
- Restaurant. She’s the chef and brings me pretend food. She especially likes to play this game at the playground. When other kids are enjoying slides and swings, Mae likes to play restaurant.
- Dress up: Mae has an entire wardrobe of dress-up clothes now, from Elsa gowns to firefighter hats. She has recently inherited a bunch of accessories from her MeMaw, so we are enjoying belts and scarves. She likes to turn a scarf into a tube top. Designing outfits is one of my favorite parts of pretend. Then she wants to have a dance party or “get married,” which means she kisses me or her daddy.
- Cleaning. Or any job. She loves to have a duty. I can give her a sponge or a paper towel, and she enjoys pretending to clean. Sometimes, she actually does clean, sometimes.
What types of pretend do you play with your toddlers? We need more ideas!