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Dramatic Play Activities for Preschool

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Play can be one of the most wonderful ways for children to learn about themselves, each other, language, and the world around them. This lesson gives you ideas for how to set up dramatic play for preschool students.

Why Dramatic Play Matters

Almost anyone who has ever worked with young children understands why play is important for their development. Dramatic play, which is any kind of play that lets children act out roles different from their own identities, can be particularly meaningful. When children engage in dramatic play, they practice their language and social skills. They work with different ways to manipulate objects, and they activate their creativity and imagination. Dramatic play can also be a safe way for young children to explore and work through what is going on in the world around them, and to understand experiences that might be challenging.

The role of the teacher in dramatic play is that of facilitator and observer. You can establish situations that enable children to play freely, and you can get them involved in roles and activities that they might not naturally seek out. You can also listen and learn more about your students by watching them engage in dramatic play.

The activities in this lesson can be organized throughout your classroom. Introduce children to dramatic play gradually, with the understanding that some will seek it out naturally and others will need encouragement.

Playing House

Perhaps one of the most common and traditional forms of dramatic play is playing house. When young children play house, they act out situations from their home and family lives as well as from their fantasies about what a home could be like. To get your students involved in playing house, set up a kitchen and/or bedroom area with a few simple props. Toy food can be nice, as well as baby dolls, and blankets. When children come to this area, if they need prompting, ask them a few simple questions.

  • Who are you in this family? Do not wed children to gender or age-specific roles.
  • Who else is in this family? See if children can get others involved in the play.
  • What is happening here today? Get the play started by helping children develop a scenario or story.

Fire Truck

Many young children are really interested in modes of transportation, and fire trucks or trains can be great ways to get their imaginations rolling. Ask your students to help you build a large fire truck from cardboard boxes. They can paint the truck red, and you can help them find ways to construct doors, sirens, lights and hoses if they desire. Provide them with props such as fire hats, stuffed fire dogs, and so on. Then, let them play freely in that area! If they need prompting, these questions might help.

  • Is there a fire somewhere? Where is it? How do you know?
  • Who is in the truck with you?
  • What do you do to take care of the fire?

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