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Pretend Play Includes Symbolic Use of Objects (24-36 Months)

Pretend play includes the symbolic use of objects. Once an object has been given an “identity” (for example, a block is a cell phone), children keep that object’s identity the same until they are finished with that particular game. Children at play work from cognitive models that link situations and emotions, and by age 2 to 3, they can conjure up a setting with characters and circumstances that will trigger a set of beliefs, emotions, and actions that the child would normally associate with that situation.


Harris, P., & Kavanaugh, R. (1993). Young children’s understanding of pretense. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58(1), v

Harris, P. L. ( 2000). The work of the imagination. Oxford: Blackwell.