Last summer we used a thick piece of plywood on top of our large blocks (for support) and created a stage. we used long, plastic tablecloths hanging from the ceiling for curtains. our backdrop was a beach scene painted on large white paper and stapled to the wall. we bought our costumes at a local drug store that was going out of business, but stores often have Halloween costumes on sale just after the holiday, or ask your parents to donate any old costumes they may have! The children would act out a story we had just read or create their own drama and perform for the school. It was great fun!
For mechanics corner, we add a real motorbike engine. This is thoroughly cleaned and all nuts tightened. With spark plugs and carburetor leads attached the children enjoy pretending they are fixing it. Provide overalls and peak caps. Also collect as many spare parts (safety first) as possible from a local mechanic. Real tools are great for hands-on with their silhouettes drawn on vinyl to ensure they are put away properly. If the engine is placed on a good size plastic lid it is easily pushed around the floor by an adult when no longer required for the day.
For an under the ocean theme use a large appliance box. Turn this on its’ side to aide the making of a submarine. Cardboard sheets with small boxes, tubes and plastic lids attached create an onboard computer area. Add flippers, snorkels, wetsuits also. An octopus made from old stockings can sit in the area guarding a treasure chest or hold books to share with the children about the ocean.
Turn your housekeeping area into a car wash. Use cardboard boxes with the bottom cut out and three of the top flaps cut off, use Popsicle sticks to hold up the front flap (windshield). Cut out handles on the side for the children to hold their car up as they “drive” thru. Let the children paint them a few days before you open the car wash. Hang streamers (the plastic ones work best) from the ceiling, supply your car wash with buckets, sponges, towels, spray bottles, squeegees, and even a cash register with play money if you’d like. ENJOY!
Medical Supply Stores provide a wealth of materials for a hospital play center. Purchase caps, face masks, bandages, gowns, shoe covers, and other real materials for very little expense. Incorporate toy medical bags and nursing tools. Make an X-Ray from a shirt box and black paper. Hang it on the wall along with an eye chart.
Be sure to provide a variety of literacy materials in your housekeeping area. I built a child-sized desk that holds a keyboard, phone, and adding machine. I also include planning books, calendars, phone books, pens/pencils, phone message pads, papers, maps, or whatever else I can find. Make sure to clean out the used papers and trash to keep the area attractive and inviting. Watch how creative your kids will be while practicing pre-literacy abilities!
December is a great time to set up a gift wrapping/ dollar store. I send home a note asking parents to send in last year’s leftover wrapping paper, bows, boxes and ribbons. We set up a dollar store with items I will be donating to needy families. The children pretend to go shopping to buy items for families that are in need. They pay the cashier and take their purchases to the gift wrapping center where the kids wrap the gifts. They then give the gift to another child to open just for fun. On the last day before break, we wrap the gifts one last time and turn them over to our school’s “helping hands” organization. Kids love wrapping, giving and receiving the gifts.
Turn your imagination center into a castle. Cut one side off a large appliance box (refrigerator size) open to stand. Then cut top to resemble a castle. You can cut windows and doors too. Provide the children with old formal dresses and suits to dress up. They can also make crowns and “jewels” with plastic beads, sequins and construction paper. We use this center during October and the kids love it!
We have used this idea with our class and they love it! Provide the children with large and small blocks, play tools, tool belts and hard hats. Make some signs i.e. “kids at work” or “danger construction zone” and the kids have a great construction zone dramatic play.
Our learning center studies a different letter each week. So the week that we studied the letter “G” we combined our Homeliving & Blocks center to make a “G”rocery store! It was complete with boxes(stuffed with newspaper & taped shut) bottles, cans(edges duct taped)empty hairspray & Elmer’s glue bottles, paper grocery sacks, play money, scanner(masking tape in the shape of an x)& name tags for the grocery store workers. We even borrowed some hand-held shopping baskets from a local thrift store to complete the experience. Try it your kids might surprise you like ours did by “beeping” things across the “scanner” & putting things in the home living center after they had been “bought”. Remember to tell them that part of the Grocery Workers job is to straighten all the shelves & be sure all the things are put away. Cleanup has never been so much fun!! (Post a note the week before asking parents for empty boxes and such for the next weeks “Grocery Store”!)