The Best Kids' Toys for Imaginary Play

Capture their attention and cue the fun with these play kitchens, tents, instruments, costumes and dollhouses.

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August 23, 2022

Kids have incredible imaginations, and as it turns out, pretend play is really great for their development. It fosters creativity, promotes independence, improves language skills, encourages empathy and allows children to safely explore the world around them.

Sounds amazing, right? If your little one is already drawn to play kitchens and tents, then continue the fun with these exciting and educational toys. Here are the best grocery store sets, instruments, costumes, dollhouses and more for imaginary play.

Pottery Barn Kids

Grocery shopping just got so much cuter. This miniature supermarket set allows your child to play the role of customer, clerk, and cashier and helps them practice everyday vocabulary like shopping cart, basket, fruit, etc. Everything is included, from the personalized buggy to the working cash register complete with play money.


Kids can't resist a play kitchen. Spark their creativity (and work on some practical skills like cooking and cleaning) with this highly interactive Mini Chef Home Kitchen. The streamlined design includes a light wood stove, a sink, an oven, a cupboard and various utensils. You can dial up the fun by throwing in a chef's hat and coat.


Have a little rockstar on your hands? Break out this Magic Touch Piano and let them lead their own band. The toddler-friendly toy is made from solid wood and plays classic melodies without buttons or keys. The pint-sized piano also comes with three sheets of music.

Crate & Kids

Set the scene for many wilderness adventures with this collapsible play tent and a few accessories. The forest green structure includes tie-back doors, a side window and an adorable flag garland, and it can easily be used as a clubhouse or cozy reading nook. If it were up to us, we'd pair the tent with a plush campfire and a couple of log seats.

$38 $30.68
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Pique their interest and promote some serious hands-on play with this realistic construction worker outfit. The costume includes a safety vest, goggles, a hard hat and a tool belt complete with a plastic saw and toy hammer. Your kiddo will have loads of fun operating their dump trucks and managing their crew of stuffed animals in this get-up.


With this beautiful baby carriage, your child can soothe and stroll their dolls just like their favorite parent or teacher. The basket is handcrafted from rattan and features rubber wheels that work on carpet, hardwood and grassy terrain. And when it's time to put the dolls to bed? The toy stroller makes for excellent storage.


Put all of those stuffed animals to good use and surprise your little one with this "Examine and Treat" Play Vet Set. The kit has everything they'll need to care for cuddly patients, including a stethoscope, thermometer, syringe, tweezers and plenty of bandages. And since the supplies are so versatile, they can easily adapt their tools for games of doctor or wildlife scientist.

Crate & Kids

Nurture a healthy imagination and an interest in the environment with this darling garden playhouse. The structure is woven from 100 percent cotton and covered in illustrated blooms, so your little cutie can tend to their own "plants." For even more hours of fun, present the greenhouse with a felt garden set and butterfly stuffed animal.

Crate & Kids

There are so many fun things to do with a dollhouse. Encourage your little one to identify different family structures, tell stories, decorate the walls and more by gifting them this whimsical fabric house. Every panel is a feast for the eyes and boasts embroidered details, like curtains that tie back and a key under the welcome mat. The plush toy even includes four dolls and nine outfits.


Get playtime rolling with this classic and colorful train set. Your child can serve as the conductor and create different routes through idyllic forests and seaside towns. (So it's good for their imagination and their problem-solving skills.) Each box includes 39 pieces for endless configurations.


Calling all brave knights and bold princesses! Send your kiddos on many quests (to save the village, befriend the dragon, find the gold, etc.) with this castle play tent and a few on-theme accessories. The tower is crafted from soft, yet durable polyester and boasts one roll-up door, two windows and a little flag.

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