Dramatic Play Ideas


Pet hospital

My 4 yr.olds loved dressing up in white lab coats, and surgery scrubs while they examined stuffed animals at the pet hospital. they used the sink for bathing, a child-size table for examining, the child size stove became the C.A.T. scan or X-Ray machine. They even had a waiting room with 3 chairs and a basket with Ranger Rick magazines to read. We added to a Children’s Fisher price Doctor Kit some gauze and real bandages. We even had a “Doctor is In” sign and a “No Smoking” sign.


We have been talking about farms with our kids. they have been having a great time learning all about farms. One thing they have particularly enjoyed is what we have done to the house area. One of the teachers had access to a couple of saddles, so we brought in a couple of bales of hays and put the saddles on them. the area is complete with blue jean jackets, chaps the kids made from paper sacks, and vests the kids made from paper sacks. We let them “ride” the horses and we even brought in some oats and corn so they could pretend to feed the horses. It is rather messy on the floor but the children have had a wonderful time in this area!


I recently made two trees using construction paper and hung them in our home living center. I attached paper apples of various sizes with velcro. The children are allowed to pretend to apple pick. I left our baskets to sort the different sizes. You could also use different color apples. It was a great way to reinforce classifying objects.


When I teach the sound of Mm, I make an M&M factory in my dress up area. I made M&M decorations by laminated red, blue, green, yellow and brown circles with a white m on them. I made costumes by laminated large colored poster board circles with a white m in the center. I punched holes in the poster circle and strung yarn through to hang around their neck. I placed pots and spoons so the children could make m&ms at the factory. They had to say the sound of Mm as they pretended to make their m&ms. I also laminated empty bags of m&ms to put out in the center.


Community Dress-Up Day: children come simply dressed as the community helper of his/her choice. Explain that the child is to tell who she/he is, and what he/she does in the community, and what tools he/she uses. Kept simple even young children can do this (I did it with my 3-year-olds). Extension: have parents come in and briefly discuss or demonstrate their jobs.


Ask your local fast food chain (i.e. McDonald’s is good about this) to donate French fry boxes, drink cups and straws, hamburger boxes or wrappers,and most of all happy meal boxes. Place them in a separate box at the “house play” area. The children will play McDonald’s for hours, either with a drive-thru or without.They may even play restaurant with waitresses, using aprons.


“Go on a Picnic”–provide a blanket, picnic basket, plastic cups, forks, knife, spoons, napkins, thermos, cooler, KFC bucket.


Another one of my favorites is while we are studying Space. We covered a huge sturdy cardboard box (one that fits around our wooden climber) with aluminum foil and clear packing tape. We made sure to cut the top flaps into a triangle so they make a point at the top. We cut out the door so the children could go inside and made triangular “tails” or “fins” for the sides. We covered the floor with the metallic surgery blankets donated by one of our local doctors and made “space suits” with them as well. We put the “blob” (two large sheets sewn together and stuffed with foam blocks) in the area so we could walk on the “moon”. We glue two plastic quart size milk jugs together, tied two ropes to the handles to make shoulder straps, and spray painted them silver for oxygen tanks. We used the gallon size plastic milk jugs, cut off the handles and spray painted the silver for helmets. We covered the windows with black butcher paper and poked holes with a pencil to create the illusion of stars. The kids have had many fabulous experiences in this room. I like to take black and white photos of them walking on the moon!


One of my favorite themes is Pioneers or The Old West. We take our rectangular art table and turn it into a covered wagon using flexible tent tubes, a large white sheet, and lots of tape. We put two rocking horses (or you can use saw horses with stick horse heads) in front of the covered wagon and away they go! We add bails of hay, hats, boots, a pretend campfire with wood scraps and orange and red tissue paper and a grate from our art room drying rack. Put sand and water in the water table along with “gold” nuggets and “pan” for gold. Hang a rug over a string and use a rug beater or paddle to “beat” it clean. Great fun!


When you think of summer you think of camping.  For our camping unit, we rolled up newspaper into paper logs and tied them with rubber bands. The children then painted them brown. After they dried(the next day) we set them up for our campfire adding red and orange cellophane and a flashlight to the middle. We sat around the “campfire” singing songs and telling stories. The children loved it.We ended our campfire time by eating ‘smores. It was great!

2 thoughts on “Dramatic Play Ideas”


  1. Make a pretend donut shop simply by
    taking poster board and cutting them
    into donut shapes…twist…donut..
    bars..etc. Glue sprinkles on some.
    Use a cash register with pretend monies, some empty milk
    boxes and paper bags/boxes. Get some free paper hats from Krispie Kreme donut shop to add more fun.

    For Science/Math…let the children
    sort the different donuts according
    to types, sizes, shapes, sprinkles or not…etc. Then graph the results.


  2. In my class we set up a Farmer’s Market. The children are able to purchase fruits and vegetables. I place plastic fruits and vegetables in baskets. I also label each basket and put the cost of each item in front of it. The children love pretending that they are purchasing fruits and vegetables. I also give them purses and wallets with pretend money. The cashier takes the money and gives them a receipt. This is a wonderful idea to use in the Fall.

Share an idea you have used in your classroom or at home that pertains to this theme.