Ideas for Imaginative Play Spaces


Pretend or imaginative play is an important and necessary part of childhood. There is nothing more rewarding than watching your child immersed in their play. Having beautiful and inviting play spaces encourages your child to engage in really valuable play so today I’m sharing with you my top ideas for creating gorgeous playspaces for your kids.

Outdoor play area ideas:

  • Mud kitchen – Use an old sink to set up a pretend kitchen and add old pots and pans and saucepans to it so kids can make mud cakes using dirt, sand and water.
  • Outdoor cubby / tee-pee  – Every child loves their own secret hide out. Whether it’s a cubby or part of the garden, make it feel like it’s theirs by adding a seat, table or a cover and some special decorations.


  • Sand / dirt / water play  – Getting dirty and wet is all part of childhood so don’t hold back! Fill a tub, or whatever you can find with lots of different outdoor toys such as containers, trucks, scoopers and spoons and let your child enjoy the wonderful sensory experience.



Indoor play area ideas:

  • Dress up area – Dress ups are so much fun!! We have a huge life-sized mirror that I bring out when my kids play dress ups and often the music comes on too so they can be silly and dance.


  • Block playWooden blocks are one of the most played with toys in our home and I love that it’s such an open-ended toy. Children can play with it in so many different ways. We have a mixture of small project blocks and larger wooden blocks, as well as geometric type blocks such as the nesting blocks for more advanced play. Get a basket or toy box and fill it up with blocks and encourage your kids to play with it by tipping it out and watch their faces light up!



  • Animals & People – We have a huge basket filled with all types of figurines, animals and bits of furniture and the kids either play with them on their own or with their dollhouse, tree-house or train set or just with their blocks.
  • Train table – My kids love their train table and we have a complete set which includes a town and people, cars and other types of transport. My 3 year old spend hours there every day with his figurines and cars.
  • Doll / tree-house – Perfect for pretend play for both girls and BOYS! A doll/tree-house is a must as it provides the perfect environment for kids to role play and they’ll often spend hours playing ‘mummy and daddy.’
  • Baby dolls – We have a little baby crib and a few ‘babies’ in our home, along with a few clothes and blankets for them. My youngest loves caring for her baby and carrying it around. Pretend babies really allow your child to role play your role as mum and are particularly valuable if you are having another child as they can work through the scenario and emotions associated with having a new baby in the home.
  • Tent / Teepee – Having an indoor space for your child to play or read books is great too as it makes them feel safe and secure. We sometimes set up our tepee inside and put our child’s favourite teddies, along with a few books inside. This works really well when my 3-year-old is wanting his own space to just hang out in.


  • Pretend play kitchen – Every child LOVES playing pretend cooking and having an area where they can do just that is really valuable. Include a mixture of kitchen play toys to expand their play. You might start off with a cooking set and some pretend play food and then add other items such as a toaster, cake, pizza or pasta set. Before you know it, you’re child will be cooking up a storm and you’ll be enjoying lots of pretend play meals together.


  • Music area – We have a music basket near the dress ups and have music play every day! The basket is filled with lots of musical toys and one of the kids favourite CD’s is the Putumayo world CD to dance to. This is our silly time and often comes on if the kids are getting edgy or need a distraction. Hand stands and somersaults are usually the end result and a good laugh!

For more information on the value of imaginative play in early childhood read our article here.

Eco Toys has a huge range of quality pretend play wooden toys, from kitchens to kitchen play food, trains and trucks, outdoor toys for sand and water play, musical toys, dollhouses, treehouses and wooden building blocks. Check out our online store for all your pretend play toys.



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