Playing pretend games with children can be a very fun and special thing to do. All it takes is a little imagination and the willingness to act a little silly. Among all of the pretend games I have played with children, two or my favorites are Fishy Fish and Unwrap the Present.

Fishy fish is a great game for kids who love the water.
It evolved when I took my two daughters and two nieces to a nearby lake in Upton, Massachusetts. We did this most days when my nieces visited us in the summer because it was their favorite thing to do, and it was one of my favorite things to do too. It would start with all of us in the lake in a shallow area. I would swim up to them, ‘capture’ them, and take them to a big rock on the shore. Then I would say, “Now you wait here, while I get some more fishy fish for you to play with!”

Of course, the captured fish would swim away while I caught the next fishy fish. I would take the newly-captured fish to the rock, explaining, “Wait till you meet the nice fishy fish I caught for you to play with. She’s waiting at the rock.” After reaching the rock, I would say, “Oh dear! Where did the OTHER fishy fish go? Now YOU wait here while get some more fishy fish…” And so on!

Playing like this can be a way of showing children that you love and value them. This is kind of like "The Present Game". In this game, your child curls up into a ball. Then, you pretend they are a wrapped present, and you unwrap the gift. You can say something like, “what a special gift!”

Another game children love is hiding under a blanket, and having you guess who they are. This can be a good transition game when the other mothers come to pick up their kids at your house. Many children, after behaving all day, fall apart when their parents come to pick them up from someone else’s house. When parents would come to pick up their kids at my house, they would find a bunch of little throw-blanket lumps on my living room floor. The parents had to guess who was under each blanket. Some of our more mellow dogs participated in this game, and occasionally a cat or guinea pig if they happened to be on someone’s lap.

The number of games you can create using just your imagination is endless. Even as you read this, there are millions of pretend games going on in the world with people willing to be just a little bit silly with kids. Why not join in the fun?

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Freeman is an ABA therapist who specializes in working with autistic children and their families. Sarah is also a storyteller, songwriter and writer, and has written several published technical articles as well as articles for parents and other adults. Her company Airy Melody Music produces CDs and MP3s geared towards children of different ages to help them relax, sleep and heal.

The first Airy Melody narrative was released in 1995 under the Trout Lily record label. Sarah’s stories were set to music performed by some of Boston’s most talented musicians. Today, Sarah Freeman oversees the design, writing and production of every Airy Melody CD to ensure that it is produced with the same love and attention of that original recording while incorporating expert feedback from psychologists and pediatricians who specialize in the field.