5 Pretend Play Ideas | Schoolyard

5 Pretend Play Ideas

The land of make believe is an important one for children. Through pretend play, kids not only expand their imaginations but also learn empathy, solve problems and play out their anxieties. While some imagined plots mimic real life situations, others project fictional stories and outcomes, both positive and negative. As kids grow, so too do their storytelling, critical thinking, language and social skills.

While the benefits of pretend play are numerous, our favorite reason to encourage it is that it’s simply fun. Popsicle sticks and stuffed toys can become a pretend animal hospital. A basket can turn into a trip to a pretend farmer’s market. When children let their imaginations take over, their world becomes a fascinating, curious place that we’re lucky to be invited into.

Here are five pretend storylines that we hope will inspire new play ideas in your home. Happy playing!

Photo Credit: GummyBox


Before fighting bad guys and saving the world, superheroes have a lot to learn. Set up a superhero school to train students (read: siblings, parents, stuffed toys!) to become superheroes.

Suggestions for kids to get started:

  • Make capes and masks using cloth, paper and elastic
  • Set up challenge stations like hopping 10 times on one foot

Take it up a notch! Complement this pretend play with GummyBox’s Superhero Adventures activity box.

little boy playing pretend ice-cream shop
Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Open up a dessert shop and serve up delicious treats, whether real or pretend. There’s a lot that goes into running a shop, from making yummy treats, to serving them and collecting the bill.

Suggestions to get started:

  • Set up a storefront with a menu for customers
  • Prepare your cash register to take payments

Take it up a notch! Complement this pretend play with Airin Handicrabby’s Cookie Decorating set or Wooddo’s Ice Cream Stand.

Little girl playing pretend camping
Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Pack up a bag and head out on a pretend camping trip. Now what goes in a camping bag? We’ll let the little ones sort that out – just remind them to bring the bear spray!

Suggestions for kids to get started:

  • Create a trail filled with interesting things like pretend spider webs, bat caves and creaky foot bridges
  • Build a tent using cushions, blankets and anything else you can imagine

Take it up a notch! Complement this pretend play with Airin Handicrabby’s Campfire & S’mores set.

Photo Credit: Letter in Pine


It’s construction season! Fence off an area to build something new –  a house, a bridge or perhaps a tunnel? Keep the area clear of pedestrians and make sure to put on proper safety gear.

Suggestions for kids to get started:

  • Draw a blueprint of what you want to build
  • Gather building materials like wooden toys, paper cups and empty boxes

Take it up a notch! Complement this pretend play with Letterinpine’s Rainbow Stacker, Airin Handicrabby’s Tool Kit and GummyBox’s Construction Zone activity box.

Photo Credit: GummyBox


Get your tickets, pick up your popcorn and enjoy the movie! Open the doors to a theater featuring your own movie or one on TV. Other ideas for theater: a concert, circus or comedy show (for those little joke-tellers!).

Suggestions for kids to get started:

  • Make tickets and give them out to your movie-goers
  • Prepare popcorn and drinks for the concession stand

Take it up a notch! Complement this pretend play with GummyBox’s Movie Magic activity box.