According to Teaching Strategies, Inc. in their text "The Creative Curriculum for Preschool" published in 2002, role play is central to the development and creative learning of preschoolers. Using dramatic play, children are encouraged to be creative and think beyond the limits of their reality. Encouraging this creativity prompts children to think outside the box, and also fosters social development.
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This role play assists in the development of many areas of learning. Children will need to interact, imagine and practice the exchange of "currency." To create a till, place a table and chairs one side of the room, along with a tray for play money. Use scales to weigh parcels. You also require pads of paper, pencils, ink pads and enlarged copies of stamps.
If your setting does not have a post box, find a cardboard box of any size and tape up the flaps. Cut a slot in one side and a small door to get the letters out on the other. The children will have fun painting and decorating their own post box. Give the children some brown parcel paper and boxes of different sizes, such as cereal boxes, toothpaste boxes and larger appliance boxes, to wrap up and "send."
The flower shop role play allows children the opportunity to make-believe while learning about nature, nurturing, currency and social interaction. Have the children start their plants in advance so that their flowers are beginning to pop up above the soil by the time you are ready to play shop. You can also have the kids make and design seed packets to sell. Provide them with play money and set up a stand where they can sell their flowers to other children. This is a wonderful opportunity to take a field trip to a local nursery or flower store, and is also a good time to discuss gardening safety and poisonous plants.
The cafe role play activity has many benefits. You will teach the children rudimentary food handling safety, foster an interest in cooking and creating, discuss nutrition and healthy choices and teach use of measures. This is also a good opportunity for teaching social interaction and use of currency. Bake small cookies to "sell," and if you won't have access to a kitchen, seek out no-bake recipes that you can use in the classroom. Set up your cafe using old table cloths, cutlery, coffee cups, a table for the counter and a tray of play money for currency.
Optician or Doctor's Office
This role play can be expanded from a rudimentary role play by teaching about the eye, why people wear glasses and what to expect when you go to see the optician. Or you could choose to teach about other medical professions. For example, with older students, you may want to role play specialist doctors to learn about the heart, the lungs or illnesses such as diabetes. To start with the Optician role play, set up stations that include pictures of the eye and where they can use toy medical supplies to test each others' eyes. Set up a reception area, as well as an area for glasses frames, with a variety of shapes, colours and sizes, for the children to try on. Use your imagination when planning these activities. The greater your creativity, the more exciting it will be for the children.
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