How to teach young children to pretend

Because many young children have spent so much time in front 
of the TV, their skills at pretending aren’t very good. They 
haven’t developed their imagination. But young children can 
learn to pretend. 

They can learn how to make objects become pretend 
things (a block becomes a telephone). 

They can learn how to pretend to be characters from 
TV, books, or real-life. 

They can even learn how to make up their own 
stories and act them out. 

Young children should be able to pretend. When 
young children can pretend, they can learn to take 
control of their play rather than letting the TV 
control their play. 

Two-year olds have difficulty pretending without using realistic 
objects and having adult encouragement. However, through 
suggestions and questioning an adult can help young children 
develop pretend play. In the example below, the child learns how 
a rope can become a hose and how a table and chairs can become 
a fire truck. A two year old can begin to see how fun pretending 
can be! 

Stevie: 1 don ’t have anything to play! 

Teacher: Why don’t you pretend to be a firefighter like in the 

book we just read? 

Stevie: I don ’t know how to be a firefighter. 

Teacher: Why don ’t you drive your truck? 

Stevie: 1 don ’t have a truck. 

Teacher: What could you use for your truck? 

Stevie: We don ’t have a truck. 

Stevie and the teacher walk around to find something for a 
pretend truck. 



Teacher: What about the chairs and the little table? Could we 

make them into a truck? 

Stevie shrugs his shoulders then begins arranging the chairs. 


Teacher: Great truck, what about a hose? 

Stevie looks around the room and can’t find a hose 
Stevie: I can ’tfind a hose. 

Stevie and the teacher walk around the room looking for 
something that could be a hose. Finally, they decide on a jump 
rope.

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