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A Whole New Day in Dramatic Play!

A Whole New Day in Dramatic Play!

Often when we think of dramatic play in a classroom setting, dress-up centers and play kitchens quickly come to mind. But there are so many opportunities to work dramatic play into your learning environment, and the benefits for children are endless. Here are some of the important skills learned:

  • Improves literacy skills as children express themselves while interacting with others
  • Offers an emotional release as acting out various events helps children to process emotions and big feelings
  • Develops creative thinking skills as children often have to improvise and react spontaneously to what happens next
  • Encourages conflict resolution as inevitable disagreements arise

Dramatic play happens through structured scenarios with more predefined settings, like within the housekeeping center, or unstructured scenarios where children are free to create their own experience, such as turning a table and chairs into a campsite. Both are important to incorporate into your everyday learning atmosphere; we’ve included some of our favorites below.

Re-enact a favorite story

We love this one! It’s a great way to have a little fun during circle time or morning meetings. Think of a classic scene from a well-loved fairy tale, book, or movie, and pick a few characters to act it out in just a few minutes. Even the littlest learners will love to show off! You can guide them with various book prop sets or even puppets

Create a set of themed boxes

Grab a few bins and create different boxes to keep on hand to bring out for the week! Perhaps you have a birthday party-themed box, where kids can use party decorations, special plates, and gift boxes to set up their own birthday celebration! Or maybe you take your normal kitchen area and turn it into a restaurant with different roles to rotate. Another favorite is grocery shopping or a farmer's market, with special shopping bags and a cash register.

Consider the season…or not!

Holidays are a fun and easy thing to incorporate into your normal dramatic play centers with appropriate decor, clothing, or household items that may be applicable to the season. Add in some jackets and gloves for the dress-up bin during the winter months or various hats, and play umbrellas and sunglasses to help the dolls and babies enjoy the sun during the summer! Another fun idea? Going totally out of season! Act out going to the beach in December, and have all the necessary items. The kids will love it.

Photo cred: @PinchOfPrek

Incorporate various cultures

We know diversity's importance, and it is great to incorporate this into your everyday dramatic play centers. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage your student families and ask them for items that may help represent their traditions and cultures to open the conversation in the classroom. What foods do they eat? What utensils do they use? Simply ensuring you have a diverse representation within dolls, books, and musical instruments makes an impact!

Shake up the scene

It is easy to work dramatic play into other classroom areas, such as your block center. Instead of just blocks today, add in some animals or wooden figures. Cars are also a great addition or little city houses. How about in water play? What can you incorporate that will open up imaginations and role-playing? Perhaps the children go on a fishing trip? Or set out on a great adventure across the ocean? Let the children dictate what happens next; often these are the most fun scenarios to watch!


Photo cred: @educating.emery

PRO TIP!For really fun inspiration around dramatic play, don’t miss Play to Learn Preschool! With a million ideas and all the fun printables, you are bound to find one for your class this year.