18 - 48 Months+

Pretend play: outdoor picnics

Toddler sitting outside having a picnic

Having picnics and engaging in other types of pretend play or imaginative play is so important for your little one’s development.

Pretend play is a great way for your child to apply their current skills and use them for different purposes. For example, pouring is a great activity that helps strengthen hand-eye coordination, self-control, and fine motor skills. But now your toddler can practice pouring with the intention to have a drink or to serve a friend or picnic guest.

toddler having a picnic outside
In photo: Playthings from The Play Kits

Research has found that many cognitive benefits are closely related to imaginative play including the concept of “theory of mind” which is an awareness that other people’s thoughts can be different from yours and that there are a variety of perspectives.

In an article written by cognitive psychologist, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD, it is explained that “make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy. When children use toys to introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy.”

The list of benefits go on. Increases in language usage and creative performance, opportunities for verbal and non-verbal expression, engaging different muscles and senses to move around and play which strengthens neurological connections.⁣

Pretend play can also be used as a tool to help familiarize your little one with situations they might feel nervous about like going to the doctor’s office or going to school/daycare. They can practice the different activities that come with those scenarios while in a safe place so it helps them know what to anticipate for the real thing.


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Posted in: 18 - 48 Months+, Pretend Play, Playtime and Activities, Playtime & Activities

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