Kids who regularly use their imaginations to pretend play develop better social skills and vocabulary than kids that do not. Discover the best toys to encourage imaginative role-play; toys that are open-ended and battery-free.
2020 Top Pretend Play Toys & Gifts
Hape Toys Garden Salad
How many hours will your kids spend playing with this beautiful wooden set of a mixing bowl, salad prongs, two dressing, pepper, bell peppers, lettuce, and more!
Take-Along Tabletop Farm
Isn’t this a darling wooden playset? It includes a truck, tractor, 2 trailers with magnetic couplers, bridge, barn with silo, grain house, trees, animals, and hay bales. This open-ended toy encourages independent play and motor skill development.
Wash and Trip Dog Groomer Kit
Wash and groom your plush doggie with this 20-piece gift set that comes with a plush puppy and pet bathing and styling essentials. The dryer even makes realistic noises and the play grooming shears vibrate.
Road Rug Play Set
Spend hours of playtime on this washable activity rug with both town and country scenes and 49 wooden play pieces. The set includes 15 vehicles, 8 town buildings, 8 farm structures, 6 animals, 7 people, 4 traffic signs, bridge.
Sand and Water Table
A sand and water table is one of the best investments you can make for your home. It literally will last you years and give your kids hours and hours of open-ended play and exploration. It’s SUCH a good investment — you will thank me later, I promise. I like this design because of the table AND that it doubles as a lid for outside. (If you have a cat– this is important.)
Playmobil Fairy Garden Play Box
Pretend you’re in a magical world with two fairies, a unicorn, chair, tables, and lots more!
Myla The Magical Unicorn
Watch Myla glitter with lights as she talks and sings. Hold the mic to Myla’s mouth and she’ll sing a song with you. Pull the mic away and she’ll stop singing while keeping the music going so you can sing solo. Touch Myla’s magic brush to the butterfly palette to choose colors. Then, tap it to her eyes, wings or horn to customize her style. Mix and match with one or more colors!
The Original AirFort
Quickly and easily inflate this roomy 4″+ tall fort with a box fan! Then play inside for hours!
Dreamworks Hatchimals Toothless
Move baby Toothless around until he’s ready to hatch! See his eyes glow through his eggshell, rock it to make him growl, tap to hear him tap back, clap & he’ll respond! Then teach Toothless to fly & plasma-blast. He’ll move his wings & ears as you guide him. In fact, there’s a lot that you can do with Toothless once he’s hatched!
Talkers Forky Figure
From Toy Story 4, this pretend play character says 15+ movie phrases plus can change his facial expression.
Skyrocket Blume Doll
Water your doll and see who emerges from the flower pot! Who will you Blume?
Melissa & Doug Playhouse
Would your kids love playing with this Country Cottage Indoor Playhouse as much as mine? It’s a 4-foot-tall indoor playhouse made of extra-thick and sturdy corrugated cardboard with front doors and shutters that open and close on each side, plus several playful details including a chimney, working mail slot, illustrated tire swing, and vegetable garden. LOVE it!!
Kindi Kids Marsha Mello
Meet Marsha Mello, a Kindi Kid who will show you how much fun Kindergarten can be with big glittery eyes, bobbling heads, brushable hair, and removable clothes and shoes!
Fresh Mart Grocery Store
Imagine the years of pretend play with this sturdy wooden grocery store that includes a hand-cranked conveyor belt, a bagging area, card swipe machine, a realistic beeping scanner, and cash drawer.
Hot Wheels Track Builder Vertical Launch Kit
The innovative vertical track easily sets against a wall with 3M Command Strips so kids can race their cars up the wall. easy to set up and includes all the pieces needed to create 2 thrilling stunts.
Build a Yoda model has a posable head and eyebrows, movable fingers and toes, and a great big green Lightsaber that will impress any Star Wars fan.
NERF Fortnite Dart Blaster
This Nerf MicroShots Fortnite RL blaster is inspired by the rocket launcher used in the popular Fortnite video game. It includes 2 Official Nerf Elite darts and fires 1 dart at a time with hand-powered action (no batteries required).
L.O.L Glamper Camper
Glamper fully extends to 2 feet by 3 feet of fully furnished, 360 degrees play, with working lights and sounds and 55 surprises.
The pink plane seats a pilot and 2 passengers with lots of fun details like TV screens on the seat backs (and working overhead compartments), a snack cart, 2 trays, a puppy and more!
Creatable World Dolls
Meant to be less adult looking and more kid-like and gender-neutral, this 1 doll comes with 1 wig, 6 pieces of clothing, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 accessories for endless hours of fun playtime.
LEGO Friends Rescue Mission Boat
Build this a rescue cruiser boat with a crane, removable deck, and speedboat launcher. You’ll also get Olivia, Andrea, Mia, a whale, a treasure chest, and robot.
National Geographic Astrophysist Barbie
Barbie, the woman with a million careers, is now an astrophysicist dressed in a top with space-inspired print, has a large telescope swivels so kids can role-play a Star search, and comes with a Star map to find a favorite Star or discover a new Planet.
Hermione Granger Doll
Hermione jointed doll is dressed in her Hogwarts uniform with a Gryffindor robe and personalized wand that fans can use to help the young witch cast spells and charms. See all the new Mattel Harry Potter dolls.
Classic Pretend Play Toys *That Always Make Great Gifts*
Little People Surprise and Sounds Home
Little ones will love pretend playing with this fun home that makes sounds, songs, and phrases. Little People always has high-quality, fun toys, this one is no exception. A TOP pick to give as a gift.
Brio Railroad Starter Kit
We highly recommend the Brio wooden train sets — and this is a great way to get started with this kind of pretend play! My kids would put these together, take them apart, and play for hours with their Brio trains. I love that they’re making sets like this for the youngest children now, too.
Green Toys Dump Truck
I gave this as a gift to my chiropractor’s son and he’s played with it every day for months and months. Fill up the back, dump it out, repeat! Drive around on it! (He even sits on it.) This is an excellent, eco-friendly toy.
Trust me when I say Squishmallows are THE SOFTEST, CUDDLIEST plush toys we’ve ever owned. And we own like a million. My kids LOVE these and want all of them. 🙂 I’m highly, highly, highly recommending these amazing toys. There are different animals, too — a llama, a frog, a unicorn, a cow, … Which to choose?
Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set
Kids will spend hours of imaginative play using this beautiful wooden 28-piece wooden ice cream set that includes scoops, toppings, cones, and $1 bills.
Green Toys Tea Set
Ready for tea? Here’s a toy that keeps on giving and provides years of fun.
Lock and Roll Rescue Truck Garage
Play and pretend with 3 wooden rescue vehicles, garage with locking color-matching doors, and keys — kids love turning the keys, opening and closing the doors, and playing with the easy to roll trucks. Big fun!
Green Toys Build a Bouquet
Get creative with flowers! Stack the vibrant lilies, petunias, and daisies in the assorted stems to reveal colorful bouquet creations. Not only is this fun for pretend play, it’s great for fine motor skills and made from recycled materials.
Little Tykes Count N Play Cash Register
One of the best pretend play toys with a bonus learning component. Color, size and number match with a put-and-take and coin-drop. Meant for hours of playing store!
Play-Doh Doctor Drill n’ Fill Set
Using this pretend play toy, you can be the dentist with the classic Play-Doh Doctor Drill ‘n Fill set. A great gift for all kids but especially when you’re helping kids become comfortable with going to the dentist!
Step2 Play Kitchen + Accessories
Seriously, a play kitchen is one of the best presents that will get kids to play and imagine for hours! Make a restaurant, cook dinner, … a kitchen was one of my own kids’ favorite toys for years. Highly recommended.
Barbie Dream House
My kids played and played with their Barbie Dream Houses — so I feel nostalgic in recommending this new model. It has a working elevator, lights, and sounds — plus more!
Beanie Bo Plush Penguin
Cuddly and sweet.
LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall
Ok, I admit it. I WANT this pretend play and building toy, too! But probably not as much as your Harry Potter kids do? (Debatable.) Use the 878 pieces to build Hogwarts Great Hall featuring house banners, movable spiral staircase, potions room, treasure room, and magic items.
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