North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Construction of Knowledge: Thinking and Reasoning

Goal: Children demonstrate the ability to think about their own thinking: reasoning, taking perspectives, and making decisions

Skill Progression: Thinking and reasoning

Age: 24-27 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 24-27 Months.

Use the word “pretend” when doing dramatic play

Situations for Observation of Skill

Observe the child in dramatic play, preferably of the child’s choosing. Household play or pretending to drive is usually popular.

Elicitation Strategy

The adult is a play partner in the dramatic play. During the play the adult can ask, “Is this … (food, car, etc.) real or pretend?” “How do you know?”

Behavior Observed

The child will identify that the play is pretend, but may not be able to explain. A simple explanation, “Can’t eat these peas.” Or “It’s not a real car!” tells you the child understands he is pretending something is real.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Dramatic play not only builds language and social skills; it also builds children’s awareness of their own imagination. Encourage early childhood educators and parents to talk about the children’s pretend play and encourage them to think for themselves. “What could we use for pretend food?” “What do you think should happen next?” Using the words, “pretend,” “think,” and “know” puts children in touch with their own thinking.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit