The Best Toys For Imaginary Play

The best imaginary play items are those that allow for open-ended play and enable your child to lead and guide the play to new levels. In this article, Early Childhood Expert, Anastasia Moloney, shares her top toy picks to facilitate imaginary play!

A child playing with the plantoys motor mechanic toy

So much is happening during playtime!

When your child engages in imaginary play, also referred to as pretend play, they are actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life, which helps them develop a sense of self, confidence and empathy.

Defined as any type of play where children accept, assign, and act out roles, imaginary play is essential to all childhood developmental areas, which include: social, emotional, language, abstract thinking and creativity.

When children pretend and dramatize being someone or something different from himself or herself, they are able to explore using new words and find new opportunities to use their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

 

Benefits of Imaginary Play

  • Helps a child develop a sense of self
  • Builds confidence
  • Helps develop empathy
  • Encourages creative thinking and problem-solving
  • Facilitates opportunities to expand vocabulary and numeracy skills
  • Can facilitate an understanding of different cultures
  • Enables gender exploration

 

Over time, children will learn to take various objects and start pretending. However, you can help spark your child’s imagination by creating an environment that allows them to expand on their play. While pretend play can be accomplished with almost any item found in your house, purchasing toys that trigger tour child’s imagination is highly encouraged.

Here’s a selection of great toys that I would recommend having readily available for your little guy or gal that can help their imaginations soar! These items can all be found in our Imaginary Play section on The Tot.

 

The Best Toys to Encourage Imaginary Play

 

Pretend Medical Sets

 

PlanToys Vet set

 

Children love role playing. Watch as they become an attentive veterinarian tending to a pregnant pup with the PlanToys Vet Set. Consisting of everything needed for an urgent after hours house call, your little vet will have their sibling’s pet back to perfect health in no time!

PlanToys Vet set

 

PlanToys Vet Set

 

$30

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Make Me Iconic Dentist Kit

 

Make Me Iconic Dentist Kit

 

$64.99

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Make Me Iconic Doctor Kit

 

Make Me Iconic Doctor Kit

 

$64.99

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Play Kitchen + Pretend Food

 

Pretend play begins with imitating actions your child has seen their parents do. Encourage your child to have fun cooking, serving, and enjoying a pretend meal themselves—or maybe even invite mommy, daddy, or their stuffed animals. The Tender Leaf Toys Kitchen Range is just the thing your tot needs to whip up breakfast or serve a banquet for 12!

You’ll also love these play food sets from Raduga Grez and PlanToys!

 

 

Tender Leaf Toys Kitchen Range

 

Tender Leaf Toys Kitchen Range

 

$249.99

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Tender Leaf Toys Fruit and Veggie Crates

 

Tender Leaf Toys Wooden Fruit & Veggies Crate

 

$39.98

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Raduga Grez Wooden Vegetable play food set

 

Raduga Grez Wooden Vegetables Set Volume 2

 

$65

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PlanToys Assorted Fruit and Veggies

 

PlanToys Assorted Wooden Fruits & Veggies Food Set

 

$30

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PlanToys Waffle Set

 

PlanToys Wooden Waffle Set

 

$45

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PlanToys Pasta

 

PlanToys Wooden Pasta Set

 

$25

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Train Set

 

Guidecraft Foundation Set A

 

Also terrific for honing hand-eye coordination and encouraging problem-solving skills, the Tender Leaf Toys Wild Pines Train Set is a new take on a classic toy. Featuring over 30 pieces, this FSC certified wood set is just what your tot needs to imagine a life in the wilderness!

Want something larger? Check out the train sets from Guidecraft below!

 

Tender Leaf Toys Wild Pines Train Set

 

Tender Leaf Toys Wild Pines Train Set

 

$99.99

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Guidecraft Foundation Set A

 

Guidecraft Foundation Train Set A

 

$129

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Guidecraft Foundation Set C

 

Guidecraft Foundation Train Set C

 

$349.95

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Doll Stroller + Doll Accessories

 

Make Me Iconic Doll Accessories

 

Children love being able to push things around—whether it’s their favorite teddy bear or taking care of a baby. They enjoy taking care of something else and exploring with dramatizing their own routines. The Olli Ella Strolley is genius because of its detachable canopy,  it can be used as both a stroller and a wagon. The Make Me Iconic Doll Accessories Kit is fantastic because it helps tots practice the life skills and self-care needed to form their independence later in life.

 

Olli Ella Strolley Wheeled Basket in Natural

Olli Ella Strolley

 

$135

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Alimrose Asleep Awake Baby Doll Rose Garden AW19

 

Alimrose Asleep Awake Baby Doll

 

$30

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Alimrose Baby Doll Carrier AW 19

 

Alimrose Baby Doll Carrier

 

$50

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Make Me Iconic Doll Accessories

 

Make Me Iconic Doll Accessories Kit

 

$79.99

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Transportation Toys

 

When thinking of imaginary play we often think of ‘dress up’ with different professions, such as being a doctor, cooking dinner, or playing house with baby dolls. We often forget that pretend play can also be exhibited in things like toy cars and trucks.

Whether your tot is zooming down the hall to put out a fire or working sun up to sun down in their sandbox to make room for a new structure, they’ll love having any of the below toys on hand!

 

 

PlanToys Motor Mechanic

 

PlanToys Motor Mechanic

 

$300

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Lukes Toys Factory Fire and Recycling Truck

 

Luke’s Toy Factory Fire and Recycle Truck – 2 Pack

 

$39.95

EXCLUSIVE

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Dress Up Clothing

 

A little girl wearing the Lovelane Designs Halloween Pirate Costume

 

When kids wear costumes, they’re able to really let their imaginations run wild. Whether they’re expressing their own personalities or experimenting with what it’s like to be someone (or something else,) costumes can be wonderful props in whatever world your tot is imagining!

 

 

Aeromax Big Kid Jr. Chef Jacket with Hat

 

Aeromax Big Kid Jr Chef Jacket w/ Hat

 

$31.95

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iloveplum shirley tutu dress

 

iloveplum Shirley Tutu Dress

 

$55

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Aeromax Baby/Toddler/Big Kid Jr. Firefighter Suit - Tan

 

Aeromax Baby/ Toddler/ Big Kid Jr Firefighter Suit

 

Ranging from $49.95 to $63.95

Available in more colors

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Lovelane Pirate Vest

Lovelane Designs Pirate vest w/ Parrot

 

$68

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Aeromax Junior Astronaut Suite Front View

 

Aeromax Jr Astronaut Apollo 11 Suit

 

Ranging from $29.95 – $54.95

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Aeromax Youth Astronaut Helmet

 

Aeromax Youth Astronaut Helmet

 

$17.95

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Aeromax Toddler/Big Kid Jr. Police Officer Suit with Cap & Belt

Aeromax Toddler/Big Kid Police Officer Suit w/ Cap and Belt

 

$49.95

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Dollhouse

 

Tender Leaf Toys Fantail Hall

 

Dollhouses and mini people are incredibly important for developing social skills such as manners and conflict resolution. Minimalist and timeless, the gender-neutral PlanToys Contemporary Dollhouse is sure to become an heirloom piece. When coupled with the brand’s Goodwood Family, your tot has everything they need to explore the concepts of relationships and meaning of home.

Alternatively, you could go for a big playhouse like the kid-size one from Asweets below!

 

PlanToys Contemporaty Dollhouse

 

PlanToys Contemporary Doll House

 

$250

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Tender Leaf Toys The Goodwood Family

PlanToys The Goodwood Family

 

$51.99

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Tender Leaf Toys Fantail Hall

 

Tender Leaf Toys Fantail Hall

$399.99

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Asweets Dream House

 

Asweets Dream House

 

$314

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Pretend Animals

 

Farmyard animals are a tried and trusted imaginary play toy and I could not love this set from Tender Leaf Toys more. Made from non-toxic rubber wood, it is a great tool for kids to develop compassion for animals, expand their vocabularies and imagine a magical life on a farm with horses to ride and care for.

 

Tender Leaf Toys Farmyard Animals

 

Tender Leaf Toys Farmyard Animals

 

$53.99

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Tender Leaf Little Barn Set

Tender Leaf Toys Little Barn Set

 

$69.99

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Tender Leaf Toys The Stables

 

Tender Leaf Toys The Stables

 

$49.99

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Checkout Register, Food Stand and Shopping Cart

 

Asweets 3-in-1 Playstand

 

Want your tot to develop numeracy skills while having fun? The Hape Checkout Register is a fantastic piece for playing shopkeeper! Perfect for introducing the concept of money, it’s particularly fun when paired with the Plan Toys Food Stand & Shopping Cart.

By going pretend grocery shopping, your tot can start to understand the value and importance of food items.

 

 

Hape Wooden Cash Register Toy Set

 

Hape Checkout Register

 

$34.99

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Asweets 3-in-1 Playstand

Asweet 3-in-1 Playstand

 

$179

Drive Thru Burger Shop / Drive-Up ATM / Corner Lemonade Stand

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PlanToys Shopping Cart

PlanToys Shopping Cart

 

$70

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