Back to school season is upon us, and this year it is more special than ever! Many children are heading back to school in-person for the first time in over a year, or entering a classroom that finally feels a bit more normal. 



Are you looking to refresh your room and/or play area and find unique ways to make everything new and exciting? Wait till you see what Jamie White and her crew over at Play to Learn Preschool have done. With one main piece of furniture, they create endless play opportunities for their little ones to tackle imaginative play, literacy skills and even counting. Jamie even makes it easy for you, with step by step instructions and printables to add to your own creation. Get ready for a year full of fun...read on!



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Changing up the dramatic play area serves several purposes. It takes a little bit of work, but making some changes periodically helps keep the students’ interest. Allowing the students to play different roles gives them a wealth of educational experiences. New literacy opportunities come with each change as well, with fresh new words and things to write. It’s like getting a whole new classroom with only a few small changes! However, it also helps to have a piece of furniture that is versatile and sturdy enough to convert to many different things. That’s where pieces like the Create-It-Station shine!



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From a pizza oven to a flower stand, furniture with versatility can be transformed into nearly anything with a few creative additions. Here are some of the ways to use the Create-It-Station in the dramatic play area.



PTL_Post_Office

The top piece of the Create-It-Station is a perfect place to hang a sign and put a small prop, like the tiny mail truck. The counter is wide enough to hold a few props and still give space to write out those addresses. The front panel is a fantastic place to post the open/closed sign and the hours of operation. 



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Behind the counter, supplies such as stamps, envelopes, and boxes are all within easy reach. Labels add literacy and help students identify where items go at clean-up time. The rest of the center set-up is available here. 



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Children love to imitate real life. And what is more accurate than a parent, exhausted, stopping into a coffee shop for a caffeinated boost? Or a couple of moms, along with their preschoolers, on a coffee-and-cookie playdate? With this Hot Drink Café dramatic play center, children can pretend they are baristas and adults enjoying a comforting cuppa. This time, the Create-It-Station is the ordering counter and pay station.



PTL_Donut_Shop

The Donut Shop in most neighborhoods has a whole wall of delicious donuts on display behind the ordering counter. So, of course, this had to happen here too! The middle section is a smaller shelf holding boxes to package the sweet treats, while the donuts are on full display in labeled bins on the other shelves!



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Every airport has a security checkpoint, so there is one at Play Air as well! The Create-It-Station’s wide countertop holds the baggage x-ray machine, which is easy to create with a large roll of duct tape and a big cardboard box. The metal detector is made from PVC pipe and attached to the station for stability. The only difference is no long lines here! (It’s a tiny, independent airline.)



PTL_Sandwiches

This Sandwich Shop is a great dramatic play center to introduce early on in the year. It’s relatively simple and a nice transition from the basic kitchen. It also incorporates very easily into units on nutrition and health. The large whiteboard on the bottom shelves makes a handy place to display a menu.



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Welcome, Friends, to the Pancake and Waffle Café! The skilled pancake chefs serve breakfast all day long. Want something crispier? Well, you’re in luck, because they have waffles too! Just stop at the check-in counter to place the order and find a seat! Please take a look at the daily specials, displayed right up front. Don’t want to brave the crowds? That’s ok; they take phone orders too!



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There is nothing better than a piping hot brick-oven pizza. Only a few supplies are needed to transform the Create-It-Station into a fiery furnace and pizza creation station.



· Create-It Station by Constructive Playthings

· Battery-operated tea light candles

· A raised baking rack (from the dollar store!)

· Some brick-printed wrapping paper

· Red, orange, and yellow tissue paper

· Some pizza pans (also from the dollar store!)

· Unused pizza boxes donated from a local pizza restaurant.

· A large cardboard box to fit in the space. The top can be                   cut off to fit.

· The printable pizza dramatic play set available here.



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This Cookie Shop dramatic play is perfect for the holidays when students see their grown-ups baking sweet treats. The top counter of the Create-It-Station is wide enough to hold small cookie sheets used to display the yummy treats, while the extra display spaces above and below are perfect for hanging signs, menus, and more!



PTL_Flower_Shop

What could be more cheerful than a delightful little flower shop, right in the classroom? This time, remove the bottom panel to create a display case for the flowers. This leaves it up to the children to decide if customers will pick their bouquets, or if the employees will handle the merchandise. The middle shelf on the shopkeeper side could also be used to hold supplies like tissue paper and ribbon, for wrapping up a happy bunch of beautiful blooms, just like in the actual flower shops!



PTL_Grocery_Store

Grocery shopping is an activity that many small children get to participate in with their families, which makes Shop Smart the perfect dramatic play center for little ones to enjoy! The Create-It-Station can be used here as a bank counter as many stores have a bank inside them. For customer convenience, hang reusable shopping bags on the end to grab one when they enter the store. It is easy to modify by adding a cash register to turn it into the checkout line. Stock the shelves with play food and empty authentic food packaging to create additional shopping space. Another possibility is to fill it with these delightful books about food to create a library extension - it’s so easy to change it around depending on the classroom’s needs!



How Will You Use the Create-It-Station?



Investing in high-quality preschool furniture can feel daunting at the outset, but it is definitely worth it. A piece like the Create-It Station will hold up beautifully for years and years to come. What else can this versatile piece of furniture be used to create? Take a picture and tag @playtolearnps and @constructiveplaythings when you post it online!



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Have fun playing and learning - and pretending - with your students today!





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FEATURED PRODUCTS:

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All-Play Stainless Steel Cookware - CHN-20 



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Pretend and Play Teaching Cash Register - LER-2690 



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Steel Child Sized Shopping Cart - SCL-TSCT 



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Fruit Sensory Play Stones - YD-15 



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Veggie Sensory Play Stones - YD-16 



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Classroom Career Outfit - Chef - CHN-21 



jamie_white_blog_009Pretend Bake 'N Play - CPX-683 



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Action Fun Appliances - Breakfast Set - PGL-32 



jamie_white_blog_015Double Deep Dish Pizzas - CPX-862 



jamie_white_blog_006Shopping Basket with Play Food - RED-162 



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Classroom Career Outfit - Mail Carrier - CPX-753 



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Pilot Dress-Up Outfit - DUA-395 



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Dry Erase Whiteboard Markers - Brite Colors Box of 12

BCZ-1272 



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Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!