40 Pretend Play Activities for Preschoolers

40 ideas for pretend play for kids including set ups, costumes, play food and more!

My boys are almost 3 and really getting into imaginative play. Watching them pretend is one of my greatest joys as a mom. It truly is the magic of childhood! I am constantly amazed by their imagination, creativity, and the stories they invent. I've been working on ways to help support their dramatic play and turned to some of my favorite blogs for inspiration and ideas.

Pretend play is incredibly beneficial in so many areas of social and intellectual development as well. You can learn more about the benefits of pretend play in these great articles from Scholastic and Parents. Pretend play does not need to cost a lot, as children can turn a cardboard box or a sheet draped over a table into a whole new world.

Be inspired by these amazing ideas for dramatic play - just click on each link to see the full post.

Dramatic Play Set Ups

Pretend Play Garden & Farm Stand from Pre-K Pages

Dramatic Play Animal Shelter from Pre-K Pages

Library Dramatic Play from Growing Book by Book

Airport from Play to Learn Preschool

Flower Shop from Play to Learn Preschool

Post Office Play with Printables from Picklebums

Post Office Center from Buggy & Buddy

Cardboard Post Office from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Candy Store Pretend Play from Toddler Approved

Pretend Play Toy Store from Toddler Approved

Pretend Play Hospital from Little Worlds

Pretend Play Veterinary Center from Little Bins for Little Hands

Cardboard Box Grocery Center from Little Bins for Little Hands

Pretend Play Dog Park from A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Homemade Grocery Store from A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Learning While Pretending from Dabbling Momma

Costumes & Props

Master Lego Builder Costume from The Umbrella Tree Cafe

DIY Costumes from The Umbrella Tree Cafe

Design Your Own Play Money from Picklebums

DIY Pirate Hat from Sand In My Toes

How Kids Can Play Doctor from What's Up Fagans

Felt Doctor Kit Play from Toddler Approved

Baby Doll Pretend Play from A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Doll Camp Fire from There's Just One Mommy

Pretend Food Play

Salt Dough Play Food from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Homemade Menu from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Ice Cream Shop from Crafty Moms Share

Cookie Shop from Play to Learn Preschool

Restaurant from Play to Learn Preschool

DIY Donut Shop from Munchkins and Moms

Thanksgiving Feast Pretend Play from Toddler Approved

Tea Party Dramatic Play from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Five Currant Buns Imaginative Play from Messy Little Monster

Easy No Sew Felt Cake from Pre-K Pages

Dramatic Play Pizza Center from Pre-K Pages

Outdoor Play

Outdoor Library Play from Toddler Approved

Outdoor Dress Up Center from Squiggles and Bubbles

Fairy Play from Squiggles and Bubbles

DIY Backyard Explorer Kit from A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Outdoor Cafe from Teach Preschool

Favorite Pretend Play Toys

The following are affiliate links.

Play Kitchen & Food: We love our play kitchen because it is compact and fits in the corner of our playroom. If I had more space and a bigger budget I would love to have a wooden kitchen. A good supply of play food is a must, and I add in our outgrown baby spoons, cups, and mismatched plastic containers too.

Play House: Our play house is one of my absolute favorites. Ours is in the backyard and my boys spend hours in there. Definitely worth the investment.

Shopping Play Supplies: Shopping cart and cash register. Perfect for store dramatic play!

Costumes & Dress Up: If you can't or don't want to DIY, I love Melissa & Doug costumes. So many great choices for role play. You can also raid your own closet or your local thrift store for great pieces.

Doctor Kit: We love our pretend veterinarian kit and it can do double duty for pretend people doctors too.

Planning a summer full of pretend play? Grab our Summer Activity Planner to keep track of all the fun! Click the See More button below to check it out and grab yours!

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Laura R

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  1. These are GREAT! Pinned and re-shared on my FB page.

  2. What a fantastic collection! I love your photo quote - I get a lot of joy out of watching my 5 year old twins at play too. Open-ended pretend play is the best!

  3. What a fantastic collection of ideas. We love dramatic play!!

  4. Great round up! Thanks for linking up at Everything Early Childhood!! I'm featuring you tomorrow as the most clicked last week! Congrats!

  5. Love these! So many ideas to try! I made a DIY sweet shop and my 4 yo and her friends play there for hours! http://www.diycorporatemom.com/2013/02/weekend-play-sweet-shop.html