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Learning Through Play: Ten Toys for Career Pretend Play

doctor costumeBy Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

“Play is the work of childhood.” — Jean Piaget

Today is Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day, a day in which children all over the world will shadow parents or other mentors through a day at their jobs. Carolyn McKecuen, the president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation, shares the value of these experiences:

“Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the workday is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success.... By bringing girls and boys together, we will continue to create a more equitable world — at home, at school, in the workplace, and in the community.”

For children younger than 8, however, a day of job shadowing probably isn’t feasible. How can you provide them with some of the benefits that older kids get from a day at work? One great way is to give them pretend play toys that allow them to roleplay different careers. With that in mind, A Mighty Girl has selected ten toys from our Career / Jobs Collection of pretend play toys to feature. Each toy represents a different career that your Mighty Girl might aspire to, from astronaut to veterinarian. So, let her get down to work with some serious play!

1. Astronaut: Space Module Tent

This tent from Pacific Play Tents features exciting graphics that make it look like a real space module. Two roll-up hatch flaps allow special access, and you can attach the matching Docking Port Play Tunnel to expand the play space. It’s easy to clean and packs down into a nylon storage bag for after playtime is done. Ages 3 - 10.

For more toys for aspiring astronauts, visit our astronaut pretend play[1]

2. Builder / Construction: Junior Tool Set

Black and Decker presents this 25-piece set of tools that look like the real thing, all conveniently tucked inside a transparent backpack. Kids can learn tool names and functions and pretend to build something of their very own. If Mom or Dad have their own Black and Decker tools, she’ll be particularly proud to use something just like theirs. Ages 3 and up.

If she dreams of building things by herself, check out our builder / construction pretend play section.

3. Chef: Little Cook Kid’s Kitchen Tool Set

Sassafras’ kitchen tool set is perfect for the budding chef: not only are they perfectly sized for kids’ hands, but these are actual, real kitchen tools that they can use to make their own food. The set includes common kitchen tools like measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin, whisk, and spatula, all of which are food-safe. She can cook or bake right alongside you — until she’s big enough to do it all herself! Ages 5 to 10.

For more toys to encourage your budding chef, see our chef pretend play section.

4. Doctor: Doctor Costume Set

It’s a rare kid who doesn’t play doctor once in a while! This costume set from Melissa and Doug features a doctor’s coat and face mask, as well as several common doctor’s tools and a name badge to personalize. The stethoscope even provides sound effects. She’ll be ready for your checkup at a moment’s notice! Ages 3 - 6

For more to help her practice seeing patients, see our doctor pretend play section.

rachel-rescue5. Entertainer: Rocker Girl Minifigure

If your Mighty Girl loves music, she’ll love this Lego minifigure featuring a rocker girl with electric guitar in hand. She’s part of minifigure series 7, released in 2012, and has a blue, black, and pink look with a white flying V guitar. This minifigure is a great way to show that girls rock too! Age 4 and up.

If she loves pretending to put on a show, check out our entertainer pretend play section.

6. Farmer: Lucky Stable Play Set

If she dreams of life on the farm, especially with horses by her side, she’ll be a huge fan of HearthSong’s Lucky Stable Play Set. The beautifully illustrated barn opens to reveal the stable, wash stall with trophies, and bedroom with dressing area for the riders. Two rider dolls, a pony, a tack box, a bale of hay, and a chair with a horseshoe detail are all included. She’ll be making up horse stories all day. Age 3 to 8.

If she loves imagining a farmer's life, check out our farmer pretend play section.

7. Police / Fire Rescue: Rachel to the Rescue Sticker Paper Doll

Mighty Girls know that there are a lot of real heroes on the streets every day: police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians are all professions she might look up to. This sticker paper doll from Dover Publications lets her dress Rachel in a variety of outfits worn by rescue workers. She’ll be dreaming of saving the day in no time! Age 3 to 6.

To help her practice being an everyday hero, see our police / fire rescue pretend play section.

8. Scientist: Primary Science Set

If she wants to make the next big discovery, she can start experimenting now with Learning Resources’ Primary Science Set. Real tools sized for little hands — and built to take the thumps and bumps your little scientist will hand out — can be used for simple observations listed on the included activity cards, or taken out any time she’s ready to experiment. The set includes items like a magnifying glass, a beaker, a flask, test tubes, and even safety goggles. Ages 4 to 7.

To get her experiments started, see our science pretend play section.

9. Teacher: Pretend and Play School Set

Teachers shape the minds of children, and lots of kids dream of what it would be like to help other girls and boys connect the dots and learn new things. She can test it out with Learning Resources’ school set, which includes a dry-erase board, two-sided map, two-sided calendar, pointer, and lots of other school paraphernalia. When she’s done playing, everything folds up together for easy storage. It’s a great way to see what it would be like to sit at the other end of the classroom. Ages 6 to 9.

To get school in session, check our our teacher pretend play section.51bt3ld2rcl_1_[1]

10. Veterinarian: Animal Clinic

If she’s an animal lover, she’d probably love a career where she worked with animals all day. Playmobil’s Animal Clinic lets her imagine every part of a vet’s day! The set includes an ultrasound machine, recovery pens for animal patients, and even removable bandages and casts for the included animal figures. Best of all, Playmobil’s sets are all compatible, so she can easily expand this set as far as her dreams will take her. Ages 4 to 10.

To care for all her animal friends, see our veterinarian pretend play section.

Of course, her aspirations will change over and over as she grows — don’t be surprised if you see something from every one of these categories over her childhood, or even in the space of a month or two! But one day she’ll be grown, in her chosen career, and you’ll be looking back and thinking, “Remember that toy she used to play with over and over again...”

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