Our dramatic play area changes on a monthly basis. The theme is most often chosen by the children in a democratic fashion. We brainstorm lots of ideas, and then vote for our favorite. Once we have the theme, we brainstorm what kind of props we need to put in it. We started the year with a sandwich shop and as of this week, we created a veterinarian’s clinic.
The children are invited to bring in small stuffed animals from home that are in need of medical attention over the coming weeks.
While I may be ultimately responsible for furnishing and initially arranging the area, the children themselves are responsible for the learning that follows.
Through dramatic play, the children are engaging in creative and imaginative scenarios that stem from experiences that may have had themselves, read about in books, heard about through listening to adult conversations, or seen on the television. They are role playing, mimicking and imitating behavior. At first they may limit themselves to things that they have experienced directly, but soon their thoughts become more independent and abstract, as they incorporate words and actions that either come naturally, or they observe their peers doing.
The children are continually developing their communication skills in dramatic play. They have to listen to what the other children are saying in order to respond in an appropriate manner. They have to take turns listening and speaking. They also have to choose specific language in order to be understood. For example, “Can you pass the stethoscope so I can listen to the bear’s heartbeat?” or “Quick… call 911 and ask for the ambulance! We don’t want to lose him!”
We are always sure to put just enough things in this area so that there are no conflicts, but also so that the children have to learn to wait in line and take turns. Dramatic play is a great place to see how the children are growing in terms of their social skills…no one plays alone in dramatic play.