Friday, December 30, 2011

Benefits of Dramatic Play

Elanna Yalow, PhD weighs in on the benefits of dramatic play:
As most early childhood teachers know, dramatic play is an extremely valuable part of the daily curriculum. Here are just some of the benefits of dramatic play:
  • Relief from emotional tension. Adults tend to cope with a traumatic event by retelling the event over and over. Children, however, tend to replay the event in their dramatic play. For example, if a child attends a funeral, she is likely to "play the funeral" afterward with friends, dolls, etc., as a way to come to terms with the event.
  • Children feel powerful. When children re-enact frightening experiences, they tend to put themselves in a position of power. They may choose to play the mommy or daddy, the most powerful people in their lives. In dramatic play, the child can control the events, and wishes can come true.
  • Use of social interaction skills. Dramatic play encourages children to put themselves in someone else's shoes. Such role-playing helps them to improve their ability to do this in real life. They learn important social skills, such as empathy.
  • Language development. Dramatic play also encourages expressive language. Children are motivated to convey their wishes to others and speak from the perspective of their pretend roles. In fact, it is often through dramatic play that shy or withdrawn children first begin to express themselves through language.
  • Use of symbols. Dramatic play furthers an understanding of symbols. For example, a doll becomes a symbol for a baby. A slip of paper may become money. Opportunities to create and use symbols help children to utilize other symbols, like letters and numbers.
  • Sort out fantasy and reality. Dramatic play also allows children to differentiate between real and pretend. This is readily apparent when observing children using exaggerated voices to signal that they are playing their roles or in the child that announces, "It's just pretend." It may seem as though a child who has spent several hours engaged in dramatic play has just been "playing around" and has nothing concrete to show for it. On the contrary, the kind of play where a child takes on a role, and learns to interact from within that role, is very valuable to her development.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaching dramatic play

Child psychologist Jean Piaget said "play is the work of childhood."

To incorporate dramatic play into education, Ideal Curriculum recommends that teachers use some of these simple tools:
  • The teacher can guide children into a dramatic play activities that will help give them practice with vocabulary, language, and concepts they are learning. ("Let's ride on the subway to the museum.")
  • It often works best if the teacher joins in and does the actions etc. with the children.
  • Small items of clothing, a paper badge, or some other item may help focus the imagination needed in the activity.
  • While the teacher may participate, the teacher should not be the focal point nor the one to give all the direction to the activity. This takes practice since you want to keep the activity going, there is a tendency to push too hard. 
  • Often the teacher needs to insert questions to stimulate or guide certain children.. 
  • The activity should be fun and engaging. When fun starts to diminish, it may be time to stop the activity.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finger Puppets

What's more fun than finger puppets? Not much, says Live and Learn:

     There isn't much we can tell you about finger puppets that you probably don't already know. Finger puppets are used in preschools for story time, daycare centers use finger puppets to entertain groups of children, and party professionals often incorporate finger puppets into birthday party activities.
     Finger puppets can be used by adults to teach and entertain children, but they have the best effect when children start using them on their own. When children use finger puppets they start to use their imaginations, they stimulate their verbal skills, they act out role playing scenarios, they enhance their socialization skills plus more, but the bottom line is...finger puppets are cute and fun!

See our selection of finger puppets, including our alphabet fingers and realistic road sign puppets.