How you set up your dramatic play preschool center will dictate how your preschoolers interact within it. It is a magical part of your classroom where your preschoolers can become anything and do anything. It’s also a place for them to process events from their real lives. The dramatic play center is often referred to as the housekeeping center, so make it feel like home!
FIND IT A HOME
Before you do anything else you have to decide where your dramatic play center will go. To do that you need to consider how much space you will need and what others center(s) it should or should not be near.
The reading area is a space that works well close to the dramatic play center. The reading area is a quiet space and the books are a great extension to the play happening in the dramatic play center.
Avoid putting your block center too close to your dramatic play area. The block area tends to be much louder and requires a lot of space. Your preschoolers may be tempted to build right into the dramatic play center.
There is nothing wrong with preschoolers mixing learning centers if all of the children playing in those areas are engaged in cooperative play. Chances are though that it would be disruptive to the children playing in the dramatic play center.
MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME
When teaching preschool it is best practice to teach things that young children can relate to within their own lives. This is why many teachers focus on home living in their dramatic play centers. It doesn’t have to stay that way all year, but it is a great starting point.
To do this, you need to provide items that will help your preschoolers mimic the action of the adults in their lives and replay their own experiences. For example, you can add baby dolls, diapers, bottles, and other baby items to your dramatic play center so that your preschoolers can use play to process having a new sibling.
You can change the dramatic play center to go with each of your thematic units. This will extend your preschoolers’ learning and help them reach the developmental goals you have set for them.
SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
When setting up your preschool dramatic play center you need to consider what you want your preschoolers to gain from it. As with any center in your classroom, you need it to help children work towards their developmental goals.
The dramatic play center is a great place to work on writing skills. If you keep paper and other writing materials in the dramatic play center your preschoolers will soon be making grocery lists, writing prescriptions while they play doctor, or writing notes to mail to their friends during a post office unit.
These spontaneous play experiences are some of the most beneficial to your preschoolers as they are able to work on social/emotional skills, expressive language, writing, and even math all through play that they have created independently.
Not only does labeling everything in your dramatic play center make clean up a breeze, it also gives preschoolers yet another opportunity to be exposed to print.
Environmental print is functional text that we see on a daily basis. Road signs are just one example of environmental print that we use on a daily basis as adults. Children begin to recognize this type of print as a first step in their literacy development.
How you set up your dramatic play preschool center depends a lot on what you hope for your preschoolers to gain from their play. Let your preschoolers collaborate with you on what the dramatic play center should be and what is included in it once you are ready to change it up. They will be even more excited and eager to explore!