This is one of my favorite posts to write each year, because I love the quiet, intense learning that comes with kids who get so into playing with toys they enter a different world. And, being a teacher who specialized in teaching through drama, I adore seeing kids play new parts and stepping into shoes that don’t quite fit.
For the most part my Pretend Play Gift Guide doesn’t change year-to-year. A home that embraces pretend play needs a few things:
- castle or doll house
- train table or city or neighborhood set
- puppets and, if you’re lucky, a puppet theater
- doll corner
A few new pretend play toys to add to your collection
House, doll houses and more
Usually I feature a dollhouse and a firehouse or a parking garage or a castle. But this year Little received a My Very Own House Cottage as a birthday gift and, 5 months later, it’s still one of the most popular items in our home. Every visitor has added his or her personal flair inside and outside our cottage and I find kids of all ages, playing inside–whether it’s serving dinner, creating a puppet show or putting babies to bed. A gender-neutral toy, this goes to the top of my Pretend Play gift guide, with nods to creativity/arts and crafts, quiet time, playdates and independent play. It’s also a great gift for families with boys and girls because it can be completely gender neutral.
We always add to our costume collection and find great deals throughout the year (especially after Halloween.) I don’t know a 3-year-old (or, really, even an 8-year-old) that doesn’t love putting on a character’s clothes and becoming that character. Among new costumes this year are the Disney Princess Cinderella Feature Light-Up Dress and for boys (and girls) we’ve always loved BabyPop’s superhero capes. This year, she’s added fancier masks and super hero gloves.
For the little race car driver, the Race Car Ride On from PlayWow is a hot new toy that little guys love jumping in and playing the “I only go fast” part. I’m especially a fan because it’s a huge space saver as it’s inflatable.
For the Doll Corner
For years I’ve been telling you about my favorite baby dolls like Cabbage Patch Kids and Corolle. But just as important in a child’s doll corner (girl or boy) are the furniture and accessories. Things like Baby Doll Cribs, high chairs and strollers(this one’s on sale!) allow kids to take their pretending a step further. You can use plastic dish wear from your home and, before you know it, your pretender is a little Daddy or Mommy, mimicking what she learns from you. This year, Corolle updated their babywearing sling–which is a great gift for a soon-to-be brother or sister.
A note about shopping around…
I’m a big price comparer (yes, I just created a word.) I often use apps like ShopSavvy or Red Laser when I’m toy shopping. So in preparation for shopping this year, I’m checking out TimetoPlayMag.com. They’re “introducing the new price comparison tool which provides users with live pricing details of the hottest toys and games. Featured directly alongside their product reviews, this tool tracks product inventory and prices at five major retailers, updating information in real-time to keep you in the know about the best deals.”
Other gift guides on Julieverse
- Preschool Gift Guide
- Holiday Must Haves: Girls 6-9
- Holiday Must Haves: Boys 7-9
- Making Literature Real Life
- Holiday Gift Guide for Adults (game night!)
- Julieverse Gift Guides from 2010
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.