Friday, November 6, 2015

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Why Pretend Play & Leapfrog's Number Lovin' Oven & Scout's Tool Set!

Pretend play seems to be one of the most natural things young children do, but why do they love it so much, and why is it important to let them enjoy it?  Today I'm talking about the importance of pretend play and sharing some of Leapfrog's new toys that allow children to engage in pretend play and learn at the same time.

I have watched kids - for many years - grab a few props and immerse themselves in pretend play games that can last for hours.  The games change, evolve, and present narratives that are far more exciting and entertaining than shows.  As I've observed these games, I've wondered how they translate into other parts of the children's lives.  I've noticed a few things:

* Pretend play gives children a chance to reenact scenarios similar to what they've experienced.  They have a chance to analyze what happened to them as it happens to the characters they create.  This can be therapeutic.

* Pretend play gives children a chance to experiment with roles they do not normally have in "real life."

* Pretend play gives children a chance to "unwind" and reset their stress levels.  They are often more able to handle stress after a period of pretend play than before.

* Pretend play lets children use energy in a relatively calm environment.  Sometimes my kids act like they've been "pent up" all day, especially if we've had bad weather.  Ideally, I'd like to send them outside.  When that's not an option, a good pretend play game can be just as effective at letting them play, vent, and calm down.

I've also learned a lot about pretend play from different research.  For example,

* Research suggests that pretend play has an important role in "social and linguistic competence." It seems that pretend play helps children develop language skills and the ability to consider that different people see things from a different perspective.

* Research suggests that pretend play helps develop cognitive processes, problem-solving, empathy, creativity, and more.

* Finally, research suggests, that pretend play helps calm children and create an environment where they are comfortable and can learn easily.

LeapFrog seems to understand this last point perfectly, and integrated it into some of their new creative toys for toddlers and preschoolers!  As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I was sent the Number Lovin' Oven and Scout's Build and Discover Tool Set.  I am super excited to share them with you right now as fantastic pretend play props AND learning tools!

When children are calm and relaxed (like when they're playing), they can learn faster and easier than if they are stressed or uncomfortable.  (Click here to learn more about how children learn!)  I love that as kids play with the Number Lovin' Oven and Scout's Build and Discover Tool Set they are actually learning number and counting skills!

The Number Lovin' Oven comes with 16 food items (my kids love cutting the pizza!), 30 songs and phrases that it sings, a stove top range, and an adorable door that actually opens and closes!  Your kiddos can set the timer and it actually counts (up to five) to "time" how long they are "cooking" the food!  My kids saw this and instantly set up a restaurant game where they took turns taking orders, cooking, and delivering the food to each other.  The food is super cute and they love playing with it.  That restaurant game lasted over an hour, and then when they had friends come over, they started playing it again!  I love hearing the oven talk to the kids about fractions, counting, and high and low temperatures!

Scout's Build and Discover Tool Set is just as popular!  At first, I thought my son would use it the most, but my daughter likes to play with it just as much as he does!  The tool set "carrier" actually looks like Scout's doghouse and comes with five tools: a wrench, saw, hammer, screwdriver, and ruler.  There are also several screws and bolts.  As the kids build, Scout encourages them to match colors, count, and more!  My youngest's favorite thing to do is press the door and see what it says!  My 5-year old likes opening up the entire carrier and re-assembling the dog house for Scout!  My kids also enjoy taking the tools out and "fixing" everything in our home or "building" all sorts of creative things, from treehouses to rocket ships!

Do you have any favorite toys or props that encourage pretend play?  Have you tried LeapFrog's Number Lovin' Oven & Scout's Build & Discover Tool Set?  I'd love to know!  You can always leave a comment, send an email, or pop by our Facebook page!

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Disclosure:  As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit.  However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.

I may share at any of these parties!

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