Play Collections

Real world collections of everyday household items are a great resource for encouraging your children to engage in role play, helping to support their learning and understanding of the real world while stimulating their imagination.

Before I throw anything out or in to the recycling, I always consider whether it might be repurposed for one of our many collections. Do the same and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you build up your own.

Here’s just a few of our role play collections and ideas for what to include:

Hairdressers – Bottles, toiletries, old hairdryers or straighteners (with the cord cut off), brushes and combs, telephone, mirrors, scissors (just make sure they’re children’s ones!), diary, hair magazines.

Shops – Calculator, till and money, purse, pens, boxes, envelopes, tape measure, scales, old computer keyboards, shopping list. The beauty of this collection is that it can be adapted for many different types of shops including shoes, post office, supermarket.

Cleaning – Perfect if you are spending your Sunday at home cleaning and doing jobs and you want little one to feel like they are joining in. Watching and copying is how young children learn and you will undoubtedly always see a home corner in any Early Years setting. Our cleaning collection includes spary bottles, sponges, cloths, rubber gloves, brushes, feather duster, bucket, dustpan etc.

Restaurant/café – Plastic plates, paper cups, plastic or play dough food, cutlery, napkins, notepad, serving tray, takeaway menus, mobile phone. Again you can adapt according to your child’s interests and likes. We particularly love a pizza takeaway! So next time you have a Domino’s don’t forget to keep hold of the boxes!


Mechanics – Great for littler tinkerers and those who love anything vehicle related. Also works as a DIY or construction collection. Items include old tool box, plastic tools, tweezers, bulldog clips, tape, ruler, measuring tape, padlock, old nuts and bolts.

For loads more ideas on themed play collections you can put together here's a handy checklist. Click on the image to download as a pdf. 


And, if you’re looking for further inspiration, then check out the pretend mini playPROMPTS HERE for tons more role play ideas.

*Please note some of these collections may not be suitable for children under three due to small parts.