What can children learn while engaged in dramatic play?
- Children develop their imaginations. They learn to be creative and think out of the box.
- Students expand their vocabularies. They engage in authentic language development— talking to each other, listening, asking questions, using words and conversation for real purposes.
- Children practice negotiating, sharing, and taking turns.
- Early learners get practical experience with sorting, classification, and organizing.
- Children increase their ability to self-regulate.
- Children expand their attention spans while they plan play activities that last increasingly longer periods of time.
This dramatic play scenario is complex, engaging, and oh-so-cute! It is hands-down guaranteed to be one of the students’ very favorite ways to play. The Airport is the one center that students come back years later and ask about. It’s the one that even school-aged kids will play with for hours on end. It is a blast! Click HERE for more pictures.
Preschoolers love to pretend to take care of babies and it such an important lesson on how to be caring, gentle and loving. The best part is, most of the supplies are probably already in your playroom. Click HERE for more pictures and ideas.
Is there anything better than a birthday party for no reason at all?! No, there isn’t! This Birthday Party dramatic play center is easy because children typically know how to play it. They’ve likely been to many birthday parties and may even start planning their own party months in advance. If you’re just getting started, this one is great for the first month of school.
Children can bake and sell goodies at their very own Cookie Shop. The best parts of this center are the do-it-yourself cookies and double oven! Click on the picture below to see all of the photos.
Setting up a flower shop is the perfect dramatic play scenario for spring, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. The preschoolers count and add flowers in their bouquets and practice tying bows (or knots!) with ribbon. Click HERE for more inspiration.
Ask your preschoolers to save and bring in all of their empty recycling containers, then use them to set up a “Shop Smart” grocery store. It’s guaranteed to be one of their favorites. Click HERE for simple step-by-step directions.
This classic dramatic play center is another favorite. Set up a hospital with a triage cot, doctor costumes and lots of props. No explanation is needed! This is one of the centers (like the grocery store and the restaurant) that the children are usually very familiar with. They love to be called “Doctor”! Click HERE for more pictures of the set-up.
Warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and a fresh pastry at the “Star Drinks” hot drink cafe. Click HERE to see lots of photo inspiration.
Chocolate and mint ice cream with cherries on top… coming right up! Preschoolers love to scoop and sell this summer treat to their friends. Click HERE to see more pictures.
Do your students love to reread the books that you share with them in class? Set your dramatic play area up as a Library. Allow them to “check out” books with their very own library card and return them to school the next day.
What’s for breakfast?! Add the pancake and waffle sets (available HERE and HERE from Melissa & Doug) to the kitchen and fire up the grill. Children will love the custom menus and all of the toppings for their delicious breakfast.
Make a brick oven from a cardboard box and a roll of “brick” wrapping paper. Preschoolers will make pizzas, and order pizzas, and deliver pizzas, and pretend to eat pizzas ALL.DAY.LONG! Click HERE to see all the photos.
Invite children to write letters to the parents or grandparents, to make cards for their classmates, and to deliver the mail at the Post Office Dramatic Play Center. Click HERE to see lots of pictures.
Can we take your order? The restaurant dramatic play center is chock full of opportunities to practice reading, writing, and teamwork. Click HERE to see the menu and order forms that are perfect for emergent readers.
Switch the general restaurant into a fast-food sandwich shop. With this dramatic play idea, students will follow the menu board from left to right to choose the bread, protein, vegetables, and toppings for their very own sandwich.
Would you like a taco or a burrito from this very popular Taco Stand? Preschoolers will take your order then create the taco or burrito of your choice. What a way to “spice” up the dramatic play center!
While you’re learning about zoo animals, pets, or even the farm, this dramatic play Vet Clinic is a great way to engage children in pretend play. They will care for the animals and become veterinarians, x-ray technicians, and nurses.
Transformed trifold science boards into a straw house, a stick house and a brick house for an adorable version of the Three Little Pigs. Preschoolers who can memorize and act out stories will have great comprehension skills when they get to school. It’s also fun act out Goldilocks and the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Whether you’re setting up a plain restaurant, a pizza parlor, an ice cream shop, or a taco stand, here’s a surefire FUN way to spice it up. Add a drink machine! You can use a box or a bookshelf with just a few simple additions (paper cups and tissue paper) to make it extraordinary. Click HERE for more details.
If you’re looking for a quick set-up, cheap center, this is it! Get all the supplies from the dollar store and added water. It’s great for summer, too. Take those kids outside and put them to work! Sometimes the best dramatic play ideas are the simplest.
Put on paleontology hats and look for dinosaur bones and footprints at this dramatic play dig site. Click HERE to see how to use a simple ingredient from the craft store to turn the sensory table into an excavation site.
Do your kids like to pretend or role play? What is your favorite way to set it up? Whatever it is, have tons of fun playing and learning with your children today.