Here are a few photos of years past in the pretend/dramatic play center. I've always set it up to go along with what we are learning, seasons, or themes. I've also had students plan and set up their own dramatic play center such as a clothing store. Click here to see a list of my classroom themes. Sometimes it would change based on the students' interests as well. In the past I have changed the center fully every month. I added little things to it during the month. For example, January was set up as a winter theme with scarves, mittens, hot chocolate cups. We studied The Three Bears story one week so I added in bear stuffed animals, three of everything, and a few bear storybooks. When the drama center is changed over we have sat as a class in/around the center and have practiced with the items. Students learn where things go and how to clean it up. Students are learning life skills and organizational skills!
|Fall theme...Click HERE to see more fall center ideas!|
|Farmer's market theme... could go along with fall or spring theme...Pots, buckets, and baskets for sorting by size and color...|
|Baking theme... for November...lots of breads, cookies, pies, baking utensils, and cookbooks|
|Here is a Dr. Seuss "house"...I put in a mix of silly foods like felt green eggs & ham, variety of colored vegetables and fruits, and cupcakes...also a teapot! There was a bucket of silly hats and a mirror later!|
|Click HERE to see more Seuss center ideas!|
|In this set up students planned what type of store they wanted, created their own wishlist of items, brought in items from home, set it up themselves, and labeled the store! See more of this idea HERE...|
|Spring is probably my most favorite themes! During the spring we learned about Eric Carle stories, gardening, and vegetables! This center was set up as a spring garden market or spring farmer's market.|
|See more spring ideas HERE!|
|The library as tons of great informational texts to add to your pretend/dramatic play center!|
Students are not only learning social skills (sharing, taking turns, communicating) through dramatic play! The dramatic play center can be enriched with a wide variety of tools, manipulatives, books, toys, add-ons to help students practice literacy skills, math skills, and more!
|Here is a photo of our hardware store! The kids had so much fun exploring familiar and unfamiliar new tools! So much measuring, counting, and comparing went on in this center! Students also sorted the colored paint chips and created mosaics with the tiles. Home depot donated aprons, carpet, and tile samples for free! See more of our construction study HERE.|
|I also like to have students explore their creativity in some way in the center. For example, the tile designs in the hardware store. In the garden show students can buy/sell items and design their own flower arrangements! See more spring theme HERE!|
The most important thing to recognize about the pretend/dramatic play center is that it is for play and pretend! I can put as many skills (to be practiced) into the center as I want but they ultimate goal is to provide a place for students to be creative, make their own decisions, role play, have conversations, and just play! If they want to take the forks and pretend they are hairbrushes in a beauty parlor (while in your beautifully arranged "bakery store")...let them. Let them play.
I do love themes and providing play inspiration for students. If you see the students interested more in another theme or topic than you suggest...then go with it! Two students take the pretend chairs and fly off into the unknown in a "spaceship." Take that as an opportunity into peeking into their interests. Go grab a spaceship book or pull up a kids NASA video on the Smartboard. You might find them grabbing the clipboards to draw or write a space story, telling each other their plans, getting their verbal skills going! You might end up doing a two week or more project approach study on space shuttles. It's okay to switch it up..go with the flow.. Some of our best in the moment creative learning classroom experiences came from doing the unexpected and going with student led decisions!
Students need a large area/space to play in the dramatic play center. They need plenty of room to explore, move, interact, and create! The basics needed are of course a stove, sink, and a table w/ chairs. You can also include shelving, a bookcase, or a rug.
At the very beginning of the year I have always had my pretend center very very basic. The items were familiar and similar to what students had at home. It's set up as a home since in August/September we learned about families and All About Me.
- old cell phones or pretend phone
- pots and pans
- butter, milk, eggs, bread, breakfast items
- pretend iron/ironing board
- empty food boxes and laundry soap/dish soap boxes
- sponge, gloves, dish scrubber
- plates, cups, and napkins
- regular large sized clothes for dress up & for ironing
- baby dolls and cribs/highchair
- clipboards, paper, pencils
As the weeks/months go on you can change/add in more items that fit what you are learning about.
|Having different textures and sizes of pretend foods provide interest, variety, and are fun! My mother in law made tons of amigurumi crochet items for my classroom! I like to make items out of felt. See more HERE. I also used store bought plastic pretend food and empty food containers like cereal boxes.|
|This was a setup from August. Students learned how to set the table. The dollar store has inexpensive non-breakable dishes!|
|Baskets and containers are great to have for storage and help students pick up items easily. In this picture you can see all the different foods. Students can put the pumpkins in size order!|
The teacher's role during the dramatic play is to act as a guide or facilitator. The teacher can ask questions about the character roles the students are playing or what their plans are. Center time is a great time to document and listen in on student learning and student conversations. The teacher's role is also to provide materials in the center to enrich creative thinking and curiosity in all learning areas.
Hop on over to Fun in ECSE to learn more ideas for your dramatic play center!