The power of pretend is not to be taken lightly. Role-play and make-believe are fuels for an early proclivity to abstraction and social interaction, among other things. Home isn’t the only stage available for dramatic play—early education classrooms are a perfect place to foster creativity and harness imagination.
How Dramatic Play Works in the Classroom
Dramatic play happens when children adopt assorted roles and act from a different point of view than their own. They may also incorporate props into their pretend world, using anything from play structures to popsicle sticks to aid in their immersion. Much of the time, a teacher won’t even have to encourage pretend—children tend to fall into it naturally.
Dramatic play can take many forms in the classroom. Children might pretend that they’re tending to animals at a veterinary clinic or cooking a gourmet meal. They don’t need much pushing to fall into dramatic play—young students have very active imaginations. In fact, all you really need to foster imaginary play is a dramatic play center! Fill an area with props and other imaginative stimuli to create a playground for the imagination, such as:
- Masks and hats
- Clothes props
- Tools of a profession (toy doctor’s tools, toy construction set, etc.)
- House props (toy oven, table and chairs, etc.)
- A puppet stage
- A mirror for costume immersion and adjustment
With such an environment, teachers won’t even have to assign children to dramatic play—it often happens organically. Need more inspiration for creating a dramatic play space? Take a peek at our line of fun Dramatic Play products!
Benefits of Dramatic Play on Developing Minds
Children are eager to pretend, but that doesn’t mean it’s mindless entertainment. In fact, acclaimed American psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman asserts that “imaginative play is a vital component to normal child development.”
Dramatic play is believed to positively influence many areas of child development. It’s so influential, in fact, that we’ve already penned a blog on the subject! Dramatic play deserves the exposure—here are some of its remarkable benefits:
- Dramatic play spurs social and emotional development
- It encourages the development of physical motor skills (for example, through a parent role-player dressing their prop baby)
- Both the use of symbolic actions and the act of drawing upon past experiences to fabricate new ones are forms of abstract thinking, which stimulate cognitive growth
- Pushing children into new situations, even imaginary ones, helps them to develop new vocabulary and solidify the meaning of words they already know
- Children can work out new or intimidating life issues in a safe setting, learning more about themselves and the world around them
Dramatic play is a powerful educational tool that kids love taking part in! It makes for a strong facet of any early grade curriculum. Teachers, how do you incorporate dramatic play into your classroom? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!