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Pretend Play

Award-winning puppets, dolls, and play sets to let kids explore their imagination. For Kitchens, please see our Food, Cooking & Kitchens list.

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Dolls,Doll Houses & Playsets : Fantasy : Puppetry, Theater & Costumes

Dolls, Dollhouses & Playsets

MainStreet Village Community Helper's Collection
Ages: 18 months & Up
The Step2 Company, $99.99

The Main Street Village Community Helper's collection fosters imaginative play, social skills, and language. The large puzzle (approximately 3x4 ½ feet) has roads and is functions as the town's "foundation." The 34 accessories include a doctor's office, police station, firehouse, firemen, police officers, construction workers, doctor, nurse, children as well as many props. Some props produce sounds and some, like the construction truck, have lights. Indirectly, this toy fosters acceptance and tolerance of differences. The people are male and female, different shades of brown and white, some have glasses, and one is in a wheel chair.

Chalet Dollhouse with FurnitureChalet Dollhouse with Furniture
Ages: 3 & Up
PlanToys, Inc., $150.00

This attractive wooden dollhouse is made up of 2 units that can be arranged together in various ways creating a larger play area. The larger unit features 3 spacious levels and the smaller unit features 2 levels. Two staircases that can be moved to any part of the house. This dollhouse has been designed to be accessible from every side and comes complete with a selection of furniture and accessories. Product Description

Savannah Dollhouse
Ages: 3 & Up
KidKraft, $149.99

The grand scale Savannah dollhouse has four floors of rooms: living room, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and bedroom. There is an attic and a porch complete with swing. Fourteen pieces of traditional furniture compliment the classic style of the century old stately homes of Savannah, Georgia.

My Dollhouse with Furniture and Dolls
Ages: 3 & Up
ALEX, $160.00

Bright, perky graphics inside and out impart a playful quality to this doll house. It is ready for instant play because it comes fully furnished with five rooms of Scandinavian-style wood furniture, and a family of five felt dolls.

Ages: 4 & Up
Playmobil, $159.99

The working elevator has space for the patient bed. The operating table is adjustable and the operating light can tilt. Patient bed rolls on wheels. Includes reception, children's and baby sections and lots of accessories.

Grande MansionGrande Mansion
Ages: 4 & Up
Playmobil, $129.99

The Grande Mansion-once assembled-provides valuable, open-ended pretend play. Our testers remarked on the many realistic details-a toilet with a lid, laundry hamper, rolling pin on a stove and flower boxes as they acted out a variety of home/family play scenarios.

Fire Station 7945Fire Station 7945
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
LEGO Systems, Inc.,$59.99

The Fire Station contains 600 pieces, and includes the station with garage doors that move up and down, two fire trucks (one with an extendable ladder up to 15 inches), lots of firefighting gear and 4 firefighter mini-figures.

Expand the play environment with the Fire Boat, Port of Lego City and the House

Only Hearts Club Theme Dolls
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
OHC LLC, $18.00

The Only Hearts Club dolls are a diverse group of wholesome dolls each dressed in a themed outfit representative of a favorite activity such as soccer, hiking, and horseback riding. The bodies are soft and flexible; the faces look like a young girl's: fresh, innocent and unadorned.

Karito KidsKarito Kids: LuLu doll & "Nairobi Nightmare" Book
Ages: 6 & Up
KidsGive, $99.99

Like all the Karito Kids, Lulu is a 21-inch poseable play doll with a unique face sculpt that reflects the beauty of her ethnicity. Lulu comes with 1 outfit and a hard-bound fictional 143-page chapter book that includes a fun 8-page scrapbook done by Lulu about her country! Lulu is made of phthalate-free vinyl with a torso that is 1/3 vinyl and 2/3 soft 100% cotton filled with polyester fill. Product Description

Also look for: Karito Kids: Gia doll & "Florence Fiasco" Book, Karito Kids: Pita Doll & "Mexico Mystery" Book, Karito Kids: Wan Ling Doll & "Shanghai Secret" Book, Karito Kids: Zoe Doll & "The Manhattan Menace" Book

Julie DollJulie Doll and Book

Ages: 8 & Up
American Girl, $87.00

Julie opens up a whole world of play with authentic styles from the ’70s including a crinkle-gauze peasant blouse over a turtleneck, two-tone bell-bottom jeans, and platform sandals and a braided, beaded belt. Also included is a pretend Bicentennial quarter—a collectible coin that was issued to celebrate the 200th anniversary of America’s independence.



Under the Sea HideawayUnder the Sea Hideaway
Ages: 4 & Up
HearthSong, $79.95

Dive into a fun new play experience. Our marine-blue "underwater" hideaway simulates a whimsical sea environment - a very special place where children can play with boats, pretend to be mermaids, and launch oceans of imaginative adventures. Product Description

Mythical CreaturesMythical Creatures
Ages: 6 & Up
LEGO Systems, Inc., $29.99

As soon as the box was opened, the building began. Working non-stop for about two hours, our young tester's finished dragon was proudly displayed to the family. Again and again, our mythical creature creator, has rebuilt sections, changing the design in a variety of ways. The play changes everyday. After our 8-year-old son built his dragon, he began to read The Dragonslayer Academy chapter book series. It was fun to watch how each book's themes were acted out with his Lego dragon. The book-play connections are wonderful.


Puppetry, Theater & Costumes

Wrap-N-Ride Horse-Licorice
Ages: 3 - 8 yrs.
Aeromax Inc.,$39.95

Our testers couldn’t decide what they’d rather do: ride the horse – or be the horse. Pretend play scenarios unfolded over many days, as young outriders took on the roles of cowboys and cowgirls, mounted police, jockeys and equestrians – and the horses who transported them.

Get Real GearGet Real Gear
Ages: 3 - 12 yrs.
Aeromax Inc.,$39.95

Aspiring fire fighter or chef in your family? These real-life costumes let kids explore their imaginations and future careers. Available in a variety of outfits including pilot, magician, jockey and race car driver.

Folkmanis Puppets in all shapes, sizes, and creatures ...

Ages 3 & Up (Prices Vary)
Rabbit In Watering Can Puppet
Ballerina Puppets: Swan Lake, Firebird and Waltz of the FlowersGenie in Lamp Puppet
Mouse with Vest Puppet
Troll with Hedgehog Puppet
Yellow-Beaked Crow Puppet
Large Tarantula Puppet
Three Headed Dragon Puppet
Black Labrador Puppy Puppet
Fairy Finger Puppets
Bichon Frise Puppet
Black Horse Puppet
Brown Tabby Cat Puppet
Gorilla Puppet
Baby Bird Puppet
Brer Bear Puppet
Brer Fox Puppet
Brer Rabbit Puppet
Dragon Duo Puppet
Flamingo Puppet
Glen Terrier Puppet
Gray Squirrel Puppet
Harbor Seal Puppet
Ragdoll Cat Puppet

Ages 5 & Up (Prices Vary)
Ballerina Puppets: Swan Lake, Firebird and Waltz of the Flowers
Cobra in Basket Puppet
Pirate Puppet
Small Witch Puppet
Great Horned Owl Puppet
Galapagos Tortoise Puppet

Draco the Dragon Marionette
Ages: 3 & Up
HaPe International, $14.99

In one group of twenty testers, children waited patiently online to play with the whimsical Draco. With four strings emanating from one fixed cross bar, it is so well balanced that even the five and six year olds were able to manipulate the puppet with ease and confidence, creating movements both gentle and highly animated. Testers were thrilled with their ability to make him fly and skate and dance.

Pretend & Play Animal Hospital
Ages: 3 & Up
Learning Resources, $34.95

Tender loving pet care goes anywhere with this portable animal hospital. A fun way to encourage responsible pet care, this playset comes complete with a lovable puppy and 34 pieces to ensure a thorough check-up. Special write-and-wipe components let children play again again. Tri-fold board with pockets stores all components neatly.

Make-Your-Own™ PuppetsMake-Your-Own™Puppets
Ages: 4 & Up
Made By Hands, Inc., $17.95

Contains everything needed to create 12 unique puppets: 12 PuppetStix, 12 stands, over 600 Pop-Outs!TM ™ (fun and easy pop-out shapes) and a glue stick.

Shadow Games
Ages: 4 & Up
Klutz, $9.95

Children are always fascinated by shadow dogs and bunnies that parents make with their hands and project on a wall. This book gets more advanced, with buildings and animals that transform into monsters when the flashlight shines on them. All this leads to putting on a shadow puppet play, using three pages of punch-out shadow puppets and a “stage” on which to project the action. Flashlight and batteries are included.

Making Shadow Puppets
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Jill Bryant    Illustrator: Catherine Heard
Kids Can Press, $12.95

Now kids can discover the secret to creating traditional shadow puppets based on designs from around the world. With instructions for nine beautifully crafted and decorated wooden rod puppets, portable screen setups, scenery and script ideas, this book will help them put on plays that are sure to astound their family and friends — without a shadow of a doubt! Book Description


Don't Miss
The International Language of Puppets
Discover puppetry's cultural connections and traditions.



Explore Within a Pirate Ship Explore Within a Pirate Ship
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Paul Beck  
Advantage Publisher's Group/Silver Dolphin Books, $21.95 (Hard Cover)   

This large (10" x 13"), handsomely decorated book with a cookie cutter ship shape missing from the center is filled with a detailed plastic model of a pirate ship. As each of the sturdy pages is turned, the layers reveal a 17th century pirate ship, and what life was like onboard. Even with approximately one third of each page missing because of the cut out, the author has been able to include an astonishing amount of information about the aggrandized life of pirates in only 16 pages. Although pirates are not to be held up as role models for young children, this book pulls youngsters in to read, to play and to pretend.

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