Observe the child in play related to household routines. Use whatever toys are in the child’s play area plus add a few real kitchen materials (plastic or paper plates and bowls, spoons, pot and lid, dish cloths, wash basin, etc.)
After the child has played spontaneously (with or without adults or siblings), the adult can enter the play and introduce some symbolic represent-tations. For instance, use a long block to call someone, use a small block for food in a bowl, a tissue for a napkin or wash cloth, etc.
See if the child accepts the symbolic objects as representing the real object and uses it in play.
Explain to parents what symbolic play is and why it is important. For instance, combined letters represent a word, which is a symbol of a real thing. Symbolic object use is the first step to understanding how an object, picture, or symbol can stand for something else. Encourage early childhood educators and parents to use substitute objects in play with the child so the child practices seeing similarities and uses his imagination.
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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.