The toddler years are a stage where our children are learning all sorts of basics from the world around them. We get them toys to help them learn, by encouraging them to discover numbers, words, shapes, colors, etc, all with the hopes that they will be ready for real studying by the time they reach primary school. But with all this academic education, it can be easy to forget that toddlers have another lesson to learn: how to be a human! They have no idea what tools they will need to use in their day to day lives when they reach adulthood, or how to use them, so they spend all their childhood learning. And a huge part of this learning is pretend play: imitating the adults around them. But a lot of adult tools can be too big, dirty, or even dangerous for children to practice with. Fortunately, there are many pretend play toys just perfect for children aged 1-4 to start practicing with. These are the top ten best ones for teaching basic life skills.

Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! 6-Piece Pretend Play Set

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

This set is perfect for children who want to clean and tidy with you, but are too small for real cleaning tools.

What does it teach?

How to properly dust, sweep, and mop, not missing any stains or fluff.

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Toy Vacuum- Dyson Ball Vacuum with Real Suction and Sounds

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

This set is great for older children who are eager to help out with the hoovering, have great motor control, but are too short for a real vacuum. It even has real suction.

What does it teach?

How to move the vacuum over the carpet and collect dust and fluff.

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Schylling Little Helper Broom Set

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

Great for children who are eager to clean up after themselves but too small for real brooms and dustpans.

What does it teach?

How to clean up their own mess after eating, bringing things in from the garden, or crafting.

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Play Food Set for Kids – Huge 202 Piece Pretend Food Toys is Perfect for Kitchen Sets and Play Food Kitchen Toys – Inspire your Toddlers Imagination + 4 Bonus Water Bottles

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

If your kid is a little foodie and always hosting their own dinner parties, they will love this.

What does it teach?

How to serve food, how to provide equal portions for all their guests, how to assemble sandwiches and burgers.

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Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque Grillin’ Goodies

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

The child who always wants to be cooking when mom or dad are out on the BBQ.

What does it teach?

Safe handling of BBQ foods, basic cooking and presentation ideas.

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Learning Resources Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register, 73 Piece

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

Children who are into shopping and handling money, who are exploring careers.

What does it teach?

How to count money, addition, subtraction, politeness.

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Melissa & Doug Cutting Food – Play Food Set With 25+ Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces, Knife, and Cutting Board

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

Children who want to join in in the kitchen, but do not have the motor controls for cutting soft foods with bread knives yet.

What does it teach?

How to hold steady and be safe when cutting food up.

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Little Tikes Shopping Cart – Yellow/Red

What interest or developmental stage is it best for?

The small toddler who already wants to push the cart at the grocery store, but is still not steady on their feet.

What does it teach?

How to push the cart, hold it steady, put things in and out of it.

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Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra Walker

This self-supporting walker features a friendly zebra character and a range of activities. Your baby can use it for walking along, or sit down and play and learn with a combination of fun finger activities and learning games on the main body of the walker.

Kolcraft Tiny Steps 2-in-1 Activity Walker -Seated or Walk-Behind Position

This walker grows up with your baby. It starts out as a seated activity center on wheels, but then upgrades into a self-supporting walker as your child becomes steadier on their feet. It features some fun toys, and can be collapsed to make it easier to store and move.

Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Activity Walker

Based on Fisher-Price’s original walker with a phone, this self-supporting walker features some newer designs and a variety of activities that will keep your toddler very busy. It can be wheeled along upright or flattened into a play center.