Activities that help young children understand real and pretend

These activities may be best suited for the age(s) shown following 
each activity. But remember, every child learns at his or her own 

If you have a puppet theater in your classroom turn it into a 
TV. If not, build a TV out of a large cardboard box. Create your 
own puppet shows based on your favorite TV characters to 
demonstrate that what we see on TV is just pretend. (4’s, 5’s) 

2. Dress up like a superhero. Have 
the young children ask you questions 
about your life. Through your answers, 
show the young children that the 
superhero is just a person in a costume 
called an actor. Later, follow this 
activity up by letting the young children 
take the role of other superheroes and 
answer questions. (4’s, 5’s) 

3. Brainstorm a list of magical 
characters from TV. Decorate socks or 
paper bags to make a puppet of your 
favorite pretend character. Then, create 
a new action story for your character to 
tell. (4’s, 5’s) 

4. Read Best Friends. Discuss with the young children some 
things friends can pretend to do. With a friend, have the young 
children draw something they could imagine and pretend to do 
together. (4’s, 5’s)
Write real and pretend stories as a class. Put them together 
in a booklet. Young children should illustrate stories. Follow-up 
activities could include sorting the pictures into real and pretend 
groups. (5’s) 

6. Show the young children a pretend show (it should be PBS 
program or other show which does not depict violence). Turn the 
room into a TV studio. Have young children work in small 
groups with an adult to develop a sequel to the story they viewed. 
Help them recognize that they are creating a pretend story just like 
the TV writers do. You could take this a step farther if you want 
them to produce the show. Use a video camera and let them act it 
out! (5’s) 

7. Compare books to TV shows. Have an adult dress up like 

an author carrying a book and another 
adult dress up like a TV producer carrying 
a camera. Have them tell what they do to 
create their stories. Allow the young 
children to ask questions. Compare and 
contrast. Help young children to discover 
that they are both pretending to be 
characters (author and TV producer) and 
creating a story using their imagination. 

8. Set up your own filming studio and 
theater. Encourage young children to 
create their own shows, act them out, and 
watch themselves. (5’s)

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