Pretend play interventions are a promising medium to improve children's play skills and related areas of development. As pretend play occurs frequently during early childhood, an intervention at this time point may be especially beneficial. The current study evaluated the feasibility of a group-based play intervention to improve pretend play and emotional and behavioral functioning of 33 children (ages 4-8 years). In groups of 4-6 players, children received eight 20-30-minute sessions aimed at increasing imagination, organization, and affect expression in play. Pretend play skills at baseline were negatively related to parent-reported behavioral symptoms and externalizing problems and positively related to adaptive skills. After intervention, children's pretend play skills (imagination, organization, variety of affect) were significantly improved with medium to large effect sizes. Satisfaction with the intervention was high. This was the first evaluation of the group-based intervention in preschool-aged children. Implications of these promising results and future directions are discussed.
Journal of Creativity, Volume 31, December 2021, article 100008