Preschool students love the dramatic play area, and the library dramatic play center is a classroom favorite. Emergent readers will flourish with the included environmental print, all while pretending to be budding librarians. This library dramatic play center is perfect for back-to-school, after a field trip to the library, or a perfect accompianment to a unit on a favorite book!
Setting Up a Library in the Preschool Classroom
Creating a library dramatic play center is one of the easiest centers to set up in the classroom. Most preschool classrooms have many of the desired items already at hand. Gather the following items:
- Books – choose books that match the theme or books that are of interest to the students
- Pillows or comfortable seating
- A library backdrop for hanging on the wall (optional)
- Computer monitors – these can be real or made out of cardboard
- Signs and labels
- Pencils and paper
Of course, the first step in building any library is providing a variety of books. Try to think outside the box when creating this space. Plastic rain gutters or spice racks make fantstic book shelves, complete with a lip so books don’t accidently fall. Convert a kitchen area or home living space into the library by adding a colorful backdrop and again, books, books, books! Add pillows, chairs, and dolls or stuffed animals as an invitation to read.
Send home a letter explaining the “rules” of the new library. It is also helpful to ensure that all of the books are returned the following day. (This letter is included in the Library Dramatic Play printable set.)
Books about the Library
To introduce the new dramatic play center, it’s helpful to introduce books about going to the library. Activating prior knowledge like this is a fun way to get students talking about the center. – Have you ever visited a library? What do you know about libraries? What can you do at a library? The following are a few favorite books to introduce the new center.
- Library Day by Anne Rockwell – A great introduction to the library, this book follows the main character during his first visit to his local library.
- The New LiBEARian by Alison Donald – When the librarian is late, a bear becomes her unlikely substitute.
- Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen – The children know the library’s rules, but when a lion suddenly shows up, will he be able to follow the rules?
Interacting with the Library Dramatic Play
Preschool children love to pretend and play, and dramatic play centers are a wonderful place to both grow a child’s imagination and skills. Studies have shown the many benefits of dramatic play, including:
- Learning new vocabulary – When integrated into meaningful tasks, young students build vocabulary that may have otherwise been overlooked.
- Developing language skills – In the Dramatic Play area, students must speak clearly with their peers and teachers in order to be understood.
- Enhancing social skills – Students must learn to negotiate roles in pretend settings and share experiences and materials with their peers.
- Fine-tuning motor skills – The addition of pencils and other recording materials allows children to practice writing and drawing.
Some students might find it difficult, however, to understand how best to interact with a dramatic play center. Providing role-playing name tags helps students define their roles within the center.
Students can pretend to search for a book using an old computer monitor and keyboard. Exposure to technology, even in a pretend setting, allows students to make real-world connections.
During centers, students can host a “baby” story time. The children bring their baby dolls or stuffed animals to the library and one of the librarians “reads” a story to them. While students may not be able to actually read yet, the act of reading, turning the pages, and telling a story through the pictures is a great emergent literacy skill.
Check it out!
Just like in a real library, students should be able to check the books out. To practice checking books out correctly, place library pockets inside each book. Print a picture of the book cover to insert in the pocket. When a student decides to check out the book, they remove the title slip and give it to the librarian along with their library card. The librarian then “checks out” the book at the computer.
To keep track of which book goes home with which reader, binder clips attached to a bulletin board are helpful. Label each clip with the student’s name. After the librarian checks out the book at the computer, the student clips the title card onto their name and gets to take the book home.
The library dramatic play center will quickly become a classroom favorite. The possibilities are endless, and learning is unrivaled. Start setting up your classroom dramatic play library center today!
Library Dramatic Play Printables
All of the signs, editable labels, role playing name tags, and library cards are available to print in this Library Dramatic Play set.
FREE Home Living Dramatic Play!
The dramatic play area is the center of our classroom community. So much fun, hands-on learning takes place there!
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Jamie White, M.Ed.
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