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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET almost literally building bridges from one idea to the next. In chapter 1, we’ll look closely at the cognitive, physical, and social benefits of block play and how to promote and facilitate your child’s block play experiences. 2 • Pretending and Make-Believe Pretend play seems to take place spontaneously among children of every culture across the world. In very young children it often begins when small toddlers pretend to be Mommy or Daddy, toting Mommy’s purse or shuf- fling across the floor in Daddy’s big shoes. This kind of role-playing has a practical function—it is a rehearsal for real life, the earliest iteration of “Fake it ’til you make it.” Pretend play is also a form of storytelling and fantasizing. As children’s minds develop and their imaginations take hold, they progress from pre- tending to be a mommy or daddy to pretending to be a mermaid, pirate, superhero, or wizard. Pretend play becomes an escape, a vacation from the ordinary world, a chance to soar above everyday experience. Pretend play is also a way to interact with other children and create a deeply meaningful social connection. Pretend play often goes by the name “make-believe.” In pretend play, children “make” themselves (and each other) “believe” that a towel can be a cape, a closet can be a castle, or a little girl can be the ruler of the whole wide world. A large body of research supports the idea that pretend play and make-believe are important ingredients in children’s mental health, partic- ularly during stressful times. But pretending does not always come easily to every child. Some children need encouragement and modeling to learn how to pretend, especially now that there are computer games and mobile apps to distract children from their own stories and ideas. A parent’s role in pretend play is just one of the many issues explored in chapter 2. 3 • Running Around Like Crazy The glorious experience of running across a grassy lawn at full steam can hardly be described in words. The freedom of all-out physical exertion defies definition and can’t be held inside the confines of the text on this page. Play Is Still Play … 5 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL