Role Play

Role Play



Play is great, play is exciting, and play is fundamental to your child’s development. When children play, they learn about the world and about relationships. Play contributes to your child’s mental, social and linguistic development. Play can pave the way for close friendships with peers and, by playing, your child experiences and acquires skills that they will use for the rest of their life.

There are many different kinds of play, and children play differently from one age to another. From infancy until the age of 2, sensory and functional games are the most common. Between the ages of 2 and 3, role-playing and construction games are most prevalent, while later, when children attend school, they often play games with rules.

What Is Role Play?

What Is Role Play?

Role play is all about pretending to be someone else. When taking on a role, the child practises various different actions. The role can be either a person or an animal. Initially, around the age of 2, the games and actions are simple: for example, playing mum and tucking up their doll or teddy in bed, or feeding them. From the age of 3, playing skills become more advanced and imagination more creative, and children can involve more words in the actions. The role play now goes on longer, because the child is able to link several actions together. At that age, the child can also take on several different roles at the same time and freely flit from one role to another.

Here is an example of linking multiple actions.

Your child is in the play kitchen, mixing various ingredients for a cake. They then place the cake in the oven and set the oven to the correct temperature. They then take the cake out of the oven and place it on the table. The child lays the table with cups and plates, and invites their mum and dad for ‘tea’.

Example of playing multiple roles and switching between them:
Your child is playing with their doll or teddy bear and is going to tuck it up in the doll pram. Your child is playing the role of mother and says to the doll: “Now, go to sleep.” The child then plays the role of the baby and acts crying. They change back to the previous role, comforting the doll and asking: “Are you hungry?” The child then switches back and forth between the role of mother and the role of baby.

Children imitate adults, and the themes in role play are usually based on what children see and hear adults doing. Children take on the roles and patterns they see in their everyday lives.
Why Is Role Play Important?

Why Is Role Play Important?

By playing roles children learn to understand the world and learn about their own existence in the world.  Role play involves practising social rules and, by playing, children learn to communicate their feelings. Children use language when they agree and negotiate. They play with words and often alter their voice to suit the role they are playing.

Role play enables the child to process impressions, experiences and any conflicts from everyday life. The child learns to understand how other people react to various situations, and how other people think and feel. Playing can also help children process anger or grief.

In role play, children also experiment with roles that possess different characteristics: strong/weak, baby/adult, sweet/stupid, nice/horrid, powerful/powerless etc. Every role has a set of different values that lend the role a certain strength and skill. That means that, when playing, you can get away with things you would not normally do, but because you are only role playing, you are allowed to be stupid or bad. Everyone knows that it is only a game. When playing roles, you can have a go at being someone different from who you really are, and perhaps dare to do something that you would not dare do in real life.

Different Role Play

Role Play with Dolls
When designing products for playing with dolls, I give a lot of thought to how important this kind of play is for children in terms of working with feelings and learning about empathy. Playing with dolls allows the children to take on the role of parent and to take care of the doll as if it were a real baby. That is why our doll accessory products should incite children to wash the doll, change its nappies, feed it and tuck it up in bed etc. just as they see adults taking care of them or their younger siblings. The accessories should resemble the very items mum and dad use to wash, dress and nurse a baby.

Kitchen role play
Another very common kind of role play is playing in the kitchen, where the child pretends to cook and bake, and serve food for their doll, their mum and dad, or friends. When designing products for this kind of play, I also base them on children’s everyday lives and the products they are familiar with. Wooden fruit and vegetables must be the same colour and shape as real products, and milk, bread and cold cuts must also be easily recognisable. Thereby, the toy food supports role play, in which a child wants to imitate the mother and father’s behaviour in the context of cooking and baking.

Other Products for Role-Playing Games
Playing with dolls and kitchens is not the only kind of role play children get involved in. That is why it has been important for me as a product designer at ASTRUP Group to think out of the box. Naturally, we also have wooden tools for the young handyman or woman, makeup, hairdressing sets and capes for playing princess and a range of hobbyhorses and accessories for wonderful role play with horses.

Every day I think about new products for playing, especially role playing, and there are many amazing products in the pipeline. Keep up to date on and, where we launch all our new products.”

What Anette, ASTRUP GROUP’s Designer, Has to Say

With a background as an early childhood educator, and now as a designer for ASTRUP Group, I like helping to create an environment that encourages role play. I believe that this kind of play is extremely important for a child’s development. I prize the fact that I design products that encourage children to play and help children to take on different roles. The right toys can support children in their role play and enable children to develop in all areas of their lives.