My daughter is just starting to get into dolls, dress up and pretend play. It’s so cute to see her carry her purse around, try to put on my high heels or rock her baby doll. She mostly has boy toys because of her older brother and until just recently, she didn’t care about toys. We usually joke that she’s 90% boy because of how rough and tumbly she is. She takes a fall better then my son (shh, don’t tell him). With her booming imagination I’ve started looking for some eco-friendly pretend play for under our Christmas tree. Here are a few of my exciting finds but many more can be found at Kangaroo Boo and The Land of Nod .
Our pretend kitchen is from a garage sale and it’s really old and beat up. I’m saving for a new kitchen set but already my sweetie loves playing with the few play pieces of food we have. I like how she can cut this set and practice matching the pieces. It serves two purposes and that’s a plus!
She has a baby doll stroller and a few dolls but a girl can always have more than one! She loves rock her dolls and put them on the couch or in the chair together. One pretend piece I remember loving as a child is a baby crib for my dolls. I’m sure many little girls have similar memories.
My son has recently become very interested in money and playing store. I’ve been thinking we need to get a cash register and I found a neat wooden one that I think would last for generations. That’s sort of the the thing I’m trying to go for. I’d like to be able to hand some of my children’s toys down and maybe through the generations. If we choose wooden toys we could even carve their names into the toy. The Land of Nod even has an adorable wooden shopping cart that I’m drooling over.
As a early childhood education teacher and someone who is going back to finish her last two classes for her Masters, in October (Lord, help me find the time), I love pretend play. I am thrilled when I see my children using their imagination. My favorite part of teaching preschool was setting up pretend play. I loved seeing the children have blocks turn into hamburgers and suddenly what I intended to be a construction site was a restaurant. Pretend play was also something I loved as a child and fondly remember having rocks be money or food. A corn field was suddenly an island or a place where dinosaurs lived. My research, education and experience tells me that children learn through play. This is why I am such a proponent of buying fewer toys (harder said than done, I know) and having more quality toys that can be used for many things and that will last.
A mom doesn’t need to spend a fortune to help embrace and encourage the imagination. Granted, I’ve picked out some pricey pretend play items above but I’m going for longevity and wood. Here are a few tips on how I am helping my daughter with pretend play and not go broke (unless I buy all of the above). She LOVES dress up or actually just putting anything and everything on her head (even my under garments but I won’t show you that picture).
1. I have gone through my closet and cleaned out my old scarves, dresses, dresses, purses and wallets. I had way too many anyhow. She loves playing with mommies stuff.
2. Go through some old Winter time stuff (boots, hats, scarves and mittens). Let the children practice how to put this stuff on NOW and then when the snow falls it isn’t so bad getting them dressed.
3. Old Halloween Costumes, bring them out and let the kids use them.
4. Visit a local resale shop and see what they have to offer. You might find some great stuff from costume jewelry, purses, wallets, scarves and shoes. You won’t spend a fortune and the kids will have soooo much fun!
5. If you have used blow dyers or curling irons, cut the cords off. Let the children pretend to do their dolls hair. They’ll have a blast!
It’s about you remembering your “imagination” and what you would have had fun playing with. Sometimes just reusing an old object and making it new to them is all it takes!
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