Role-play is a great way to celebrate your little ones' imaginations and can be entertaining for the whole family!
Not only this, but it is also a really good way for children to develop their communication skills in different circumstances - for example, how they must alter their use of language for different age groups. Pretend play can also be a good way to teach children about important topics and different cultures in a way that they understand. So, we've put together a list of our 25 top role-play activities for kids to cover all kinds of important life lessons!
1. Boot Camp
Take your kids on a training camp for the afternoon! Make an obstacle course made of anything you can find around the house and ask one child to do the stopwatch whilst the other completes the course. Like the military, this is not a competition between each other - this should be a teamwork activity with plenty of cheering and encouragement.
If your kids have stuffed farm animals, why not set up some pens for them in the garden and feed/look after them for the day. Then plant some seeds in the garden to teach them where the animals' food comes from! And if your household is carnivorous, teach them through play to respect where their meat comes from!
3. Historical Event
Ask them to think about what their favourite thing to learn about in history is at school and act this out! This can be a great way for them to learn more about history whilst at home during lockdown - anything from Florence Nightingale to World War 2.
This is a classic that most families will have done at some point! Put up a tent inside or in the garden (or make a tent with a sheet if you don't have one) and have a picnic! Depending on their age and attention span, after the day of fun activities in the garden - why not camp out in the garden with a fire and some marshmallows?
Ask them to use their imagination to make 'buildings' from objects you find around the house. If you have an older sibling with an age gap, try to get them involved as the architect and encourage them to draw up plans for the younger ones! This can be a fun activity for any age as you can alter the complexity of the game.
Use imaginative play or set up a detective trail in the garden, to send children on a mission to complete the riddles and find clues. Dress as spies and use props to make it realistic.
7. Radio Hosts
Act out a talk show and discuss important topics. Remember, this is all about tone of voice and can be a great way to learn to debate in a light-hearted setting. Also, you can play any games that you've heard on the radio and play your favourite songs to each other.
Make instruments or use ones that you already have, to encourage them to make a song together. Instruments can even just be a selection of pots with a wooden spoon to create a drum kit! Anything can make noise and make a beat (even if it is a little deafening)! When they've practised a song, ask the kids to perform to an audience using their imagination!
Tape a couple of toilet paper tubes together to make some binoculars and travel around the garden or the house viewing animals. These can be stuffed animals or just imaginary ones, either way, it's great to teach kids about wild animals in their natural habitats - take a trip down to the river to see the hippo and then to the watering hole to see the elephants!
If you think your children are budding journalists, why not get them to make their own newspaper? Let the kids pick their roles - from editor to report and use this activity to learn about current affairs, or use stories from home or the neighbourhood.
Get the kids to make up imaginary laws and use dramatic play to act out some crime scenes. Whether their laws and ideas are realistic or ridiculous, they will learn the importance of sticking to (or questioning) the rules - and the consequences of doing this!
This is another classic that no doubt younger children have already played. But to get the older kids involved, why not ask them to host actual lessons with a test quiz at the end? Teaching can be a great way of learning things and it's also a great way to learn planning and organisational skills.
13. Grocery Store
Grab some items from the cupboard and price up the food using stickers. You could create some fake money for the customers to come in and trade. Encourage them to play multiple roles or use imaginative play to pretend that their shop is busy! This can be a great activity to learn about money and budgeting.
Have a receptionist role and a vet role to act out looking after sick pets! They may want to use their imagination to make up pretend visitors, or you can bring in multiple stuffed toys for them to examine. Don’t forget the food and water bowls!
Make a rocket in the living room using household items and put a space exploration video on the TV for the kids to watch. Use role-play to learn what it's like in space and ask them to complete tasks that a real astronaut would do - for example eating a sandwich upside down.
Use role-plays to imagine that the children have just landed on earth. Ask them how an alien would feel if everything around them was new or different - and watch them investigate the simple things that they take for granted every day.
Use The Apprentice as inspiration here - to bring out the entrepreneurial side to your kids! Have them think of an idea or an invention and ask them to think about how they can sell it! Ask questions like 'who would want this item?' and 'how much would they pay for it?'. Try to use something that they're interested in to encourage them to turn it into a business idea - for instance, kids who like writing might write a book, or kids who love baking may want to start a cookie business! This is a great way for them to consider future passions or professions.
This one has endless possibilities and kids will come up with all sorts of imaginative role play ideas! Find a story or movie for them to act out, or encourage them to make up their own. Some may even want to make tickets, write scripts and make costumes.
Dig out your hula hoops, props and costumes and use role-play to act out a circus scene! Create posters to stick around the home and think about what tricks they can perform! Why not use the family dog in the tricks and teach them the importance of respecting animals in circuses?
Create a computer by drawing a screen onto a box and form a desk set up with your old office supplies! Encourage them to think of tasks to complete in the office and maybe even host a meeting about something really important. Ask the CEO to delegate jobs to everyone else involved and watch them have countless hours of fun pretending to be an adult with a really important job!
Pull some chairs into two lines to look like a cabin, or enough to form the cockpit. Let the kids do the rest and watch them go through the motions of life as an air-hostess or pilot (this will also depend on how many children are involved)! If your kids have been on planes before, they will know what to do - but if not, give them some pointers as to what happens next.
Grab a notebook, a tea towel for their arm and create a kitchen out the back. During the role-play, they can act out an evening as a restauranteur - taking orders, dealing with complaints and compliments to the chef. Whether you use real food or imaginary food is up to you. This is a really easy and fun game to play as it is an environment that they are probably already familiar with, meaning that they won't need much guidance! So, sit back and enjoy being a customer for the evening whilst they do all the hard work!
23. Hair Salon
Grab some hair ties, clips and combs and encourage your kids to act out a salon at home! This can form the basis of many different role-play activities - as they can work on real peoples' hair (but be careful and no scissors), on dolls or imaginary people.
If you've got a garden with lots of flowers in, why not encourage them to pick some to sell on in their flower shop? Visit their shop and pick a display to exchange for some loose change.
25. Birthday Party
This is a great one if your little one has a birthday during lockdown/ Using role-play, they can pretend that all of their friends are round - they can prepare and be the host to an imaginary tea party with plenty of decorations!
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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