Preschool children learn through playing. As they play, children learn social skills, problem solving, motor skills, creativity and imagination. One of the ways to encourage play in the preschool classroom is through dramatic play centres. In dramatic play, children pretend to be something or someone different than themselves. They are then able to use their imaginations and creativity to act out scenarios with the role they chose.
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A popular dramatic play centre is the housekeeping area. Some examples of items to place in this centre would be a small table and chairs, pretend kitchen, dishes, fake food, dress-up clothes, baby dolls and baby items. You could also include such household items as a child-size vacuum cleaner, ironing board, iron and telephone. Children will immediately be able to step into a role and pretend, since all preschoolers have experience in family life.
Extend the housekeeping area by setting up a market close by. In the market area include pretend food, shopping baskets, bags to carry items in, a cash register and pretend money. Children will then be able to go shopping for the items they need in their home. This area will help children learn money, healthy food choices and social skills.
Setting up your dramatic play area like a fire station will excite many children in the class. Gather firemen hats, big boots and hoses made from wrapping paper tubes for this area. Fire trucks can be made from large boxes. The children will love dressing up like firemen, collecting their tools and driving in their box trucks to the site of the incident. This centre is an excellent activity when teaching through a unit on community helpers.
Watch your preschoolers use their imaginations while being waiters, waitresses, chefs and customers in a restaurant play area. Set up a couple of small tables and chairs. Place a child-size kitchen a few feet away with pretend food, cooking utensils and dishes. Waiters and waitresses will need notepads to write down orders and trays to carry the food. Involve the children in making menus for their restaurant complete with prices. Once their restaurant is complete, the children will learn how to order from a menu, table manners, different jobs in a restaurant and money skills, all while having fun!
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