Early Pretend Play
Toddlers and Making Believe
Tags: pretend play, language, imagination, symbolic play
Posted: 2013-12-12 17:57:29 By: Joanne Oppenheim




2013 Award
New Sprouts Cook It! My Very Own Chef Set
(Learning Resources $24.99 Score: )

Just right for twos, this new six piece chef set is ready for some pretend cooking fun!  Comes with a pan, a pot and lid, a slotted spoon, mixing spoon and bright orange colander. We're delighted with the gender-free color choices (purple, orange, green, teal and grey) - making this a set without any built-in agendas. Pieces are plastic and sturdy - and could also be used in the bathtub (especially the colander!).


Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2013 Award
Hape High Chair
(Hape $45 Score: )

Easy to assemble, this all-wooden high chair is pink, white and natural wood finish. The feeding table does not lift, so no fear of pinched fingers. It is low enough for older two's to use for feeding dolls and teddy bears. Comes with a pink seat cushion for dolly's comfort. 2 & up

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2013 Award
Step 2 Creative Cooks Kitchen
(Step 2 $190 Score: )

Our two-year old tester loves having a kitchen of his own and his mom loves the fact that it is big enough for more than one child. He's also a tall two and this play setting "fits" him with ease. Offering his mom coffee from the coffee pot, talking on the phone, using the condiment bottles and opening and closing the window shutters are some of his favorite features. His mom says she has pushed this away from the wall so that he can get behind the windows and use it for taking orders--although she wished the backside was more finished for two-sided play. That said, she is happy with the many ways it is being used and said she would recommend it to others. Designed in bright gender-free colors, this is currently only available at Toys R us.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.




2013 Award
Corolle Mon Premier Calin Charming Pastel
(Corolle $39.99 Score: )

For older toddlers, Corolle's 12-inch Calin dolls have long been our favorites. We love that this is a multi-cultural collection and that there is always a boy doll in the mix.  They are hand washable and have soft vinyl heads, legs and arms. Their  beautifully finished rompers also add to the appeal. Their bald heads are a safe choice for toddlers who are still mouthing toys. Their bean-bag bodies allow them to sit in many poses and their sleeping eyes open and close. Best of all they are light and cuddly for early pretend play.

This delicious new version is in a soft pink romper with matching hat (with a knotted finish).There is also Calin Sky (a boy version in a blue romper). Check out other Platinum Award winning Calin dolls for multi-ethnic choices including Corolle Mon Premier Bebe Calin Naima Doll, Corolle Mon Premier Calin Yang Baby Doll.



Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2007 Awards
Zoom Around Garage
(International Playthings $59.95 Score: )

Our 21⁄2 year old tester loved the levels of this multilevel garage and the elevator - his mom loved that the set comes with four cars (easier to share that way!) The chunky plastic cars can ride up the elevator and roll down the chutes and ramps with sound effects and flashing lights (not too loud). A fun setting for dramatic play. Cars can be played with separately or linked together with magnetic connectors. They say 1 & up - we'd say more like 18 mos. & up. (800) 445-8347.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2012 Award
New Sprouts Cure It! My Very Own Doctor Kit
(Learning Resources $24.99 Score: )

The black bag is back! But are there still doctors carrying them? Never mind, it will store all the chunky plastic tools a pretend doctor needs: a stepthoscope, ear scope, thermometer, syringe, and bandage. These upsized pieces are intended for early games of make-believe. Ideal for playing out feelings about those well-baby check-ups. Our tester found that the sticker o the thermometer ripped when the prop was twisted in play. That said, she reports that the kit made an awesome hit! "He loved everything about this set! He loved organizing the tools into the cute doctor bag. He loved using each tool one after the other, and the syringe is especially cool because it has the plastic accordion piece inside to mimic giving a real shot. He loved using the ear scope to check not only ears, but eyes and mouths as well!"

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2013 Awards
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
(Fisher-Price $60 Score: )

You know how car salesmen tell you the car they are selling is fully loaded? That would be a good description of this red activity center that is shaped like a car. It has wheels but does not move around. It's designed for sitting up, crawling, and even toddlers who are cruising. There's a dashboard with steering wheel, lights, and buttons to activate--always a favorite of toddlers. The back wheels spin and one side door opens and closes so tots can go in and out. There is a shape sorter on one side and a ball run on the other, a windshield wiper that talks about the weather. All the pieces are sized up for young players. This toy takes some time to put together with screws and stickers. It says 6 months to 36 but we think this will be used most by babies who are crawling, cruising and beginning walkers. Lots of ways for them to make things happen and for early games of pretending.

SNAP: There's still plenty to do even though the wheels of this sporty red car do not move the vehicle about.  A good choice for a child who is ready for pretend without the need for pedals or foot power. Think of it as a pretend setting with so many ways of making things happen.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.


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