Pretend Play in Preschool: How to Be a Scientist!

Pretend play has a strong link to social and emotional intelligence, language, inquiry and problem solving skills, creative expression, sequential thought processes, and general nurturing skills in preschool.  Through pretend play, preschoolers will begin to move beyond their natural egocentric views and toward the understanding of various roles that others have in our world.  This week the #TeachECE Education Team is offering activities to encourage PRETEND PLAY at home or in the classroom.   We hope your own kids will enjoy becoming SCIENTISTS as we pretend, learn, and, ultimately, apply new knowledge to our everyday world.

Pretend Play in Preschool How to be a ScientistPretend Play in Preschool:  How to Be a Scientist!

The most popular pretend play areas for our kids are, hands-down, the indoor and outdoor science areas!  The areas are well-equipped with lab coats, goggles, clipboards, timers, safety glasses, tweezers, spoons, pots and pans, water, chopsticks, flashlights, magnifying glasses, scales, rulers, and items to explore that usually change weekly.

Each week, we provide simple items that will encourage inquiry and solution-based learning opportunities as our kids pretend play to gain real-world knowledge.  The kids will don their lab coats and goggles for the FUN of pretend play, but little do they realize that as they play, they are building the foundation for a lifetime love of nature, science, and learning.

Outdoor Science Pretend Play CenterSimple Fall Outdoor Science Pretend Play Center:

Some suggested materials:

  • Old pots or pans
  • Rocks
  • Leaves
  • Other nature items (try to provide a variety of textures and smells)
  • Seasonal fruits and/or vegetables
  • Plants or flowers
  • Utensils or Tools (tweezers, tongs, spoons, ladles, chopsticks, measuring tape/rulers)
  • Lab coats
  • Scales
  • Water


What Does a Scientist DoAs the children pretend play, explore what a scientist does.  The kids will develop their own play and assignment of specific roles if playing with peers, but encourage them with open-ended questions to inquire about science center items and to explore the answers independently as they play and make observations.

Pretend play is IMPORTANT play for preschoolers.  With ample opportunities to explore the world around them, preschoolers will gain new knowledge that will extend beyond the classroom or home and outward toward discoveries in the larger community!

For more ideas to ENCOURAGE pretend play with your own children, please visit the activities from the Early Childhood Education Team below:

Bakery Pretend Play Printables for Counting by Life Over C’s
Pretend Play: Amazon Fulfillment Center by Growing Book by Book
Pretend Play Fishing Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life
Detective Pretend Play by Capri + 3
Farmer’s Market Preschool Theme Pretend Play by Learning 2 Walk
Exploring Numbers 0-10 Pretend Garden Meal by Tiny Tots Adventures
DIY Farm Pretend Play Mat by The Educators’ Spin On It





About pschooltoolbox

Educator, Wife, Mom of 6, ECE Curriculum & Design, Professional ECE Blogger & Brands. I write about playful learning activities primarily via The Preschool Toolbox Blog - STEAM, STEM, and Digitial Content Curator for Omnicor, Inc.
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10 Responses to Pretend Play in Preschool: How to Be a Scientist!

  1. Pingback: Pretend Play: Working at an Amazon Fulfillment Center

  2. This is a wonderful idea! Pretend play is full of learning opportunities.

  3. Natasha says:

    I bet it is the most popular area. Science allows you to explore beyond what your imagination can even fathom. All of my girls love science and all of them have very active imaginations. Thank you for sharing your outside lab with us. I have materials that we can use for one today for a great rainy day science lab.

  4. Pingback: Pretend Garden Meal | Tiny Tots Adventures

  5. Theresa says:

    I love your indoor/outdoor science centers. It is wonderful that you change the things to explore frequently so they are surprised with new learning experiences.

  6. Pingback: Farmer's Market Preschool Theme Pretend Play

  7. Alecia says:

    We love taking out play outdoors when we can. I love the steps too. Such a great way to guide pretend play to learn.

  8. Kim says:

    I love this idea! What a fun way to get the kids to explore!

  9. Clarissa says:

    What a great science center you have! I need to set something similar up in our home.

  10. Pingback: 30+ Science Explorations to ENGAGE Preschoolers in ACTIVE Learning! | The Preschool Toolbox Blog

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