The housekeeping/dress-up corner should be stocked with play items and props that encourage young children to play make-believe. Look for pots and pans, stuffed animals, dolls (soft, unbreakable, washable, and multiethnic), toy telephones, hats, purses and tote bags, unbreakable tea sets, doll beds and carriages.
What’s Learned Playing make-believe lets a child bring the complicated grown-up world down to size. Research demonstrates that children who are active in pretend play are usually more joyful and cooperative, more willing to share and take turns, and have larger vocabularies than children who are less imaginative.
Imaginative play helps youngsters to concentrate, to be attentive, and to use self-control. Think about how a child develops a game of supermarket. He must first set up the counter, put out the pretend cans of food, invite friends to shop, use the “cash register,” and bag the groceries. All of these actions help a child to learn about sequential acts. He also has a story or script in mind that helps him to perform each of these steps in a logical and orderly way.
When children pretend they also learn to be flexible, substituting objects for those they do not have. For example, a child will use an empty paper towel roll for a telescope.
Through imaginative play, children learn empathy for others. Children will often act out a whole range of emotions when playing pretend, offering sympathy for a stuffed “doggie” that is hurt or for a doll that fell off a chair. We watch them scold a puppet for being naughty or tell a doll how proud they are because she used the potty.