We are the Play Learning Lab, run by Dr. Angela Pyle at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.

© 2020 by Play Learning Lab



Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

45 Walmer Road, Room 320
Toronto, ON M5R 2X2

Pretend Play

Free Play

Learning Goals: Social Play, Oral Language, Creativity, Abstract Thinking


  • Set up a dramatic centre within your classroom, providing materials for the children based on students’ interests.

  • Students can use available classroom materials to engage in pretend play by negotiating, choosing, and acting out roles and storylines.

  • This type of play is not limited to the dramatic play centre, instead it can occur anywhere inside or outside of the classroom.

Suggested Resources:

  • Various costumes and props

  • Toys (i.e. dinosaurs, vehicles, stuffed animals)

  • Puppets

  • Found materials (e.g. recycled cereal boxes, plastic containers, etc.)

Why is it Free Play?

  • The children are leading the play by deciding on the roles, storylines, and materials to be used.

  • During the play, the educator acts as an observer. Their primary role is to provide engaging materials to facilitate the children’s free play.