2 easy pretend play ideas that will make learning time more fun {OPM #7}

Raluca Loteanu September 10, 2017
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pretend play ideas for young kids

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If you are looking for some pretend-play ideas for young kids, here are two of our favorite ideas! They are fun for kids and they can also be a great opportunity for them to learn new things!

One day my son was playing on the floor with some pom-poms. At some point, he stopped and went to the kitchen drawers looking for something. I was curious to see what he is up to! After a while, he came back in the living room with 3 little bowls. I asked him what is he doing with them. He smiled and proudly told me that he is preparing pom-pom ice-cream.

I loved his idea and I asked if he wants us to make an ice-cream stand. He was happy about my proposal so we soon created our little ice cream shop. While playing with him, I realized that this simple pretend play is a great opportunity for him to learn new things or to practice things that he already knows. So I made the activity a little bit more challenging for him!

If you like the idea of using pretend-play to connect with your child and make learning time more fun, here are 2 ideas that we recently tried and were a big success in our home! Both of them are very easy to set and you’ll be able to prepare them in less than 10 minutes.

1. The ice cream stand

We used:

pom poms

pipe cleaners (cut in small pieces)

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colored craft sticks

colored paper

– some bowls and recipients we had at hand.

If you don’t have all the craft supplies, you can only use pom poms.

Skills that we practiced: sorting, number recognition, counting, (a little bit of) addingpretend-play ideas for young kids

I taped the colored papers on the table. I drew a circle on each one and Bogdan decided what type of ice cream he wanted me to write on them. Then, I invited him to sort all the pom poms and pieces of pipe cleaners and put them in the circles.

At first, Bogdan was the one who led the activity.

He was happy to prepare ice cream for me. 🙂 When he started to lose interest in the activity, I came up with an idea. It was meant to make the activity more challenging! But also to help Bogdan practice his knowledge about colors and numbers. So I took small pieces of paper and wrote orders for ice cream.

Each order contained a number and a circle of a specific color. That meant that he needed to prepare an ice cream with that specific number and color of pom poms or pipe cleaners. Then, I add more lines on the order so he needed to combine 2-3 different colors in the same bowl. This was a great exercise to practice number recognition and counting!

Here is how one of the ice cream orders looked like:pretend-play ideas for young kids

At the end, we also did a very simple adding game. I asked him easy things like “If I buy 2 scoops of yellow ice cream and 2 scoops of blue ice cream how many scoops will I eat?”. He prepared the ice cream with 2 yellow pom poms and 2 blue pom poms. Then, he counted the total number of pom poms in the bowl and told me the answer. It was a fun challenge for him!

2. Grocery store pretend-play

We used:

– a snack and food play set – we have this set from ToysRUs (you can also find it on Amazon); if you have toddlers I recommend you this set (it is more expensive but the quality is way better)

tape

– color coding labels (like these ones)

– a marker

– colored paper (you can use normal paper too).

Skills that we practiced: sorting, number recognition, countingpretend-play ideas for young kids

First, I divided the table into several sections using the tape. Then I added the color coding labels in every section and I wrote a price on each of them. If you don’t have color coding labels, you can just tape small pieces of paper on the table.

I cut the paper into small pieces and created the “bills”. The bills had the same numbers as the ones on the table – 5 bills for each number. Then Bogdan sorted the products and put them on the table. Similar products needed to be in the same section.pretend-play ideas for young kids

In our play, Bogdan was the customer and I was the cashier.

He told me what products he wanted one by one. We set a limit of items per visit to the grocery store to make things easier. After he requested the item, I asked him what price does it have. He read the label and I added the number on the receipt.

At the end, he took the receipt and gave me the bills according to the numbers on the receipt. We repeated this until he remained without bills. Then, it was my turn to be the customer and he was the cashier.

After each round, he needed to rearrange all the products on the table. This activity was a good opportunity for him to practice numbers and we had a lot of fun too!


We played both games several times in the past weeks and they were a real success in our home. I hope that you will try them too and that your kids will enjoy them!

Discover more play ideas

​Our Playful Moments (OPM) is a project to encourage simple ways of playing that make kids happy and build a playful parent-child relationship. You can find other nice play ideas in the below articles or you can discover the whole series here.

If you are looking for some pretend play ideas for young kids, here are two of our favorite ideas! They are fun for kids and they can also be a great opportunity for them to learn new things! | Pretend play ideas | Pretend play shop | Pretend play for toddlers | Pretend play for preschoolers | Pretend play ice-cream shop

If you are looking for some pretend play ideas for young kids, here are two of our favorite ideas! They are fun for kids and they can also be a great opportunity for them to learn new things! | Pretend play ideas | Pretend play shop | Pretend play for toddlers | Pretend play for preschoolers

* All activities for young kids need adult supervision.

photo credit preview photo and Pinterest photo: Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com​

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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