We have old typewriters, pens, pencils, business envelopes, stampers, etc. This is is very popular with all the students. I don’t know what “business” they are running but they like it.
While doing a week-long unit on clowns and circuses, we had the kids make triangular hats and paint different colored circles on them, attached sparkly streamers to the top, and then painted their faces using the face paint recipe in this site. The kids had a ball!! They especially liked seeing themselves in a mirror when we were through.
Keep old containers from foodstuffs to set up a grocery store. I have several shopping bags full of cleaned-up containers/packaging on-hand for “Grocery Day”.
The children can play customer/grocer, etc. Have play money and price tags available. Also, help the children make shopping lists. Another activity my boys
and I have tried is grouping the containers/packages into food groups to introduce nutrition awareness.
Grocery store. Add empty food boxes and plastic bottles (parents can send these in). We also add a cash register and brown grocery bags and play money. We turn the “stove” in our house area into a checkout by taping black paper on the top so it looks like the belt (unfortunately, it does not really move). The children can be customers with mini shopping carts, purses, dress up shoes and clothes, etc. Some children can be the cashier (take turns) and when the food is all off the shelf, the children can be stock persons, and reshelve items.
After showing the students how to do this activity, I place a tub of soapy water, clean water, and a towel in the home living center for students to wash dishes. They love this! It is also helpful to have them wear a vinyl type apron or smock as to not get too wet.
I place clean, unfolded towels and cloth diapers in the dramatic play area for the students to fold. I also provide a rebus type picture sequence that outlines how to fold in 1/2 and then in 1/2 again. Folding is something that has been presented to them both in circle time and individually. This is good for motor skills as well as for fractional concepts.
I have my dress up area reflect the theme we are studying if at all possible. For example, while doing a unit on Clifford, the Big Red Dog, I put a Dr. Kit along with a leash, dog toys, dog bones and some stuffed animal dogs in the dramatic play area. The kids could then pretend to be a vet or to just take their pet for a walk. When studying apples, we read the story, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. I then put white and red playdough in the dramatic play area along with lots of cooking utensils and the recipe for the apple pie out of the book. Students could then pretend to make apple pies. It was amazing how detailed their pies really were!
We have a “Garage Prop Box.” Actually, my husband collected these things for me. There are old gas filler nozzles with hoses attached, air pumps, grease guns, safety glasses, tools galore, clipboards full of car diagnostic papers, neat car service diagrams, estimate sheets, flashlights, receipt books, car magazines, tool catalogs, car advertisements from the newspaper, he even got patches from Chevron and Ford that I sewed on white shirts.
Just recently, I have added empty, clean make-up containers to my dress up area.
My 3 and 4-year-olds love to play “birthday party” in the housekeeping area. I decorate the usual home-like corner into a party with streamers and balloons hung on the ceiling. I wrap cardboard blocks and boxes as presents and supply them with party hats, plates and cups. You can add empty cake boxes and ice cream containers and I’ve painted a round metal tin to look like a cake. We also use playdough with candles and cupcake pans so they can pretend to make their own cakes.