Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Classroom Ideas for Dramatic Play

Many classrooms, especially preschool and elementary settings, offer dramatic play stations and activities as a way to introduce young children to how the world around them works. From exploring careers to learning about families and responsibility, dramatic play classroom activities allow children to use their imaginations and enhance their developmental skills.

Dress Up
Using clothing, shoes, hats, jewelry and other accessories, put together a dress-up station or box where the students can learn how to button, zip, snap and put on outfits. Since kids love to play dress up in adult clothing, classroom dress up activities let them use their imaginations to create unique looks. During free play activities, students can select the items of their choice to wear, but for more structured play you may ask them to dress up as if they were going to work, to bed or to a fancy dinner.

Puppet Show
Finger puppets and hand puppets can help children learn the elements of a story, from setting and plot to character development. Puppet shows afford students an opportunity to create stories with their fellow classmates using unique characters they can create as they make up their stories. It'll inspire creativity and spark their imaginations. 

Whether playing with stuffed or wooden animals or using items like paper plates to create animal masks, kids can learn about different types of animals, what they eat, where they live and the sounds they make. They can select their favorite animal and demonstrate how it would eat, sleep, sound and travel around in its habitat. Another possible activity is to allow the students to learn and act out how zoo keepers, farmers and pet owners care for their animals on a daily basis.

Pretend Kitchen
Preparing meals, washing dishes and setting the table are important skills children begin to learn at an early age through dramatic play in the classroom and at home. A pretend kitchen area is usually equipped with a stove, sink, refrigerator, child-friendly dish and pretend food. For a dramatic play classroom activity, assign children specific duties they need to fulfill in the kitchen area. You can even add tasks such as making a grocery list, shopping for food at the supermarket and putting the food items away in the kitchen.

Careers and Occupations
At a young age, children begin to pay attention to what the careers and occupations the adults in their lives hold. A classroom idea for dramatic play that explores careers and occupations is to have students tell the class what they want to be when they grow up and then dress the part using items from the dress-up area. Students can demonstrate what they think someone with the career of their interest does. Younger kids will likely select familiar careers like teachers, doctors, policemen, firefighters and nurses.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why is Dramatic Play So Important?

When you’re two and a half feet tall, the world can be a wondrous place.  There are so many new things to see, taste, touch and smell.   But what do you do, when many of those new sights and sounds are off limits? As a parent, you spend a great deal of time trying to show your child the world around them, but you probably spend even more time telling them “No.”  You want them to be safe, but how will they ever learn how to operate in the adult world, when they are too small to participate?

The answer is dramatic play.

By giving your child a safe place to act out and mimic the things that they see adults doing every day, they have a chance to grasp a better understanding of how things work. Here are some more benefits to engaging in dramatic play together.

Dramatic play helps develop:

Knowledge of how the world works
Problem-solving skills
Emotional strength & stability in actions & words
Language skills
Focus, concentration
Styles of behavior
Cooperation with others
Perception of meaning
Participation in world

Why are dress up games and dramatic play so important for childhood development?

There are many benefits to dramatic play and dress up, and it’s important that you set aside time each and every day to play together with your child.  Let’s look at some examples of things that dramatic play helps kids do:

Explore issues in their lives – small children have difficulty grasping things like a new baby, a sick relative, or a move.  Dramatic play allows you and your child to explore the changes that are about to occur, in a fun and exciting way.  How about pretending that their dolls are sick, and they must go to the hospital to get better?  Or maybe Mr. Bear has to move to a different town and try to make new friends with the other bears in town?  The possibilities are endless- and you are free to discuss fears and concerns with your child in an imaginative way.

Experiment with different behaviors – playing together doesn’t come naturally to kids.  They must work on cooperating with others and dealing with anger and frustration when it arises.  One of the best ways to do this is through dress up.  Wouldn’t you much rather your child gets upset with a stuffed animal, then a fellow playmate?

Practice decision-making/problem solving – if there are four kids and two cookies, how can you divide them up so that everyone gets their share?  Try that experiment with a room full of toddlers, and someone is going to end up in tears.  Act it out at home in the safety of dramatic play, and a life lesson will be learned.

Process different points of view – How do you help your child become sympathetic with the world around them?  You teach them what it feels like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Dress up allows your child to be anyone that they want to be, and helps them understand where the other person is coming up.  Remember playing school as a kid?  Being the teacher gave you a whole new perspective on what it was like to be a student.

Learn new concepts – there are so many other things that your child could gain from dramatic play.  Math can be taught through a pretend trip to the grocery store for example.

Dramatic play helps your child become a valuable part of the adult world, while keeping them safe and secure.  Don’t be afraid to let your child lead the way, and listen when they speak.  You may just gain a better understanding of the world too!