Session note Session notes

Session notes for Pretend play Stages: 3 to 5 years


For other relevant information look at the session note Learning through pretend playOpens in new window and the recommended reading Imagination (3–5 years old).

Read the paragraph about dressing up in Te Māhuri 1, page 13, and look at Maka on page 14 — she’s sitting in a box pretending to row with ‘oars’ of rolled up paper.

Dressing up and pretending in this this way are examples of tamariki using their imagination.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What sort of pretending have you been noticing in your tamaiti?
  • What do you think your tamaiti was learning?

What can tamariki learn from pretend play?

Research has shown there are many reasons why imaginative play is very important for a child’s development. It helps them to:

  • understand that people have different thoughts and feelings — this is sometimes called having a ‘theory of mind’
  • have mental flexibility, which leads to creativity
  • use other thinking processes such as fantasy, using symbols, integrating information from different contexts and divergent thinking (coming up with many different ideas)
  • express a range of feelings, positive and negative
  • start learning self-regulation — showing less aggression, being able to wait to get what they want, speaking pleasantly and showing empathy
  • practise their communication skills, through taking on different roles in pretend play
  • learn how to negotiate — to give and take
  • co-operate and collaborate
  • learn to play fair
  • learn how to problem-solve.

So from this list it looks as though playing pretend games is linked to improved thinking, communicating and getting along with others.

How can whānau help tamariki in this way?

Provide opportunities for pretend play by:

  • inviting their friends to play with them
  • encouraging tamariki to use things from home when they’re pretending
  • asking open-ended questions such as:

–     What do you think a … would wear?

–     What sort of gear would we need for that job?

–     What could you use for a…?

–     What would happen if we…?


How does this relate to the SKIP resources?

Baby wall frieze - Whakarongo mai.  Listen to me — whānau can learn a lot about their child’s thinking, feelings and fears by listening to their imaginary playOpens in new window

Six things children need - Te ārahi me te māramatanga.  Guidance and understanding — whānau notice and learn about what their tamaiti is learning to do and say when they are pretendingOpens in new window

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