Dramatic Play Ideas

If you’re like me, you saved all of your prom dresses, and they are collecting dust in the very back of your closet. The girls in our class just love to wear formal dresses. We add crowns, fancy shoes, and matching purses.

For our living center, I found a lot of wonderful inexpensive items at our local thrift store. I bought silky nightgowns with lace and just tied the thin straps up to shorten them to their lengths, they call them their party dresses. I also was able to find wigs, hats, uniforms, scarves, shoes, purses, belts, ties, and the list goes on. I was in heaven and the most expensive thing was a pair of cowboy boots for $2.75. We just change our living center area and the clothes to go with our unit.

Make sure to have mirrors in your dress up area! (Preferably a long mirror–the unbreakable kind!) The children love to look at themselves.

My children like to play restaurant in the kitchen area. I draw or glue pictures to represent play foods that we have on construction paper which I then laminate. They also like to tie on aprons and pretend to be a waiter. I have children with disabilities, some of whom are non-verbal. This activity facilitates the use of pictures for communication and helps to teach the names of foods for language development.

At my preschool, we cut pantyhose at the top and joined three together to make a plait. We made a headband and attached two plaits to each headband. The children really loved wearing their new hair.

We collected puppets, stuffed animals, and toys for all the animals in Brown Bear, Brown Bear. We let each child choose a toy and “read” that part of the book as the teacher turns the pages. Later, we put out lots of different toys and let them make up their own parts as the teacher writes them down. The children draw the pictures and we make our own book.

Have children stand in a line with one leader (adult) the other adult leader stands across the yard or room. The leader without children yells “_______, _______, how did you get there? (filling in the blanks with an animal or a mode of transportation) The other adult leader yells the mode of movement for that animal or vehicle. ex. “Snake, snake, how did you get there?” “We slithered!” at this point, all the children pretend to be that thing and slither to the other leader. It goes back and forth as long as the attention of your children. Use horses, bees, motorcycles, race cars, airplanes, etc.

When doing a farm or rain unit, put yellow and orange rubber dishwashing gloves out for children to wear on their feet.

To promote fine motor skills I tied a thin rope to our home center to be a clothesline. I put out clothespins and my group had a wonderful time hanging clothes up to dry. They even tried to see how many things they could hang from one pin, how heavy the items could be, how many items they could attach onto the wash line and how to hang the clothes using as few pins as possible. I did do this activity under supervision with my three-year-olds, but the four-year-olds needed less supervision. Also, I tied the rope to two high and immovable pieces of furniture. I also made it clear that for safety reasons they could not hang on the rope of pull on it, and I reminded them of the rules often.

I have large handheld “masks” of farm animals. They are large pictures of the animal with a hole cut out for the child’s face. We have one child close his eyes while I put the mask up to his face for him to hold. Then the other children must give clues about the animal so that the child can guess who he is. It is a great language activity and the children love it. We talk about describing the animal by telling what it looks like, how many legs, what it eats, what it does, the sound it makes, what we use it for, etc. And, of course, the child has no difficulty guessing who he is after so many clues. I don’t let them guess until everyone has had a chance to give a clue if they want to.

Now that Spring is coming (to some areas, we are in NW Florida) extend your dress up area to the outdoors. Make up a basket of costumes, dress-ups and props; take them outside and set up an area or center where the children can dressup and then play outside. Princesses, Princes, Animals, Farmers, Gardeners, just some ideas for Spring fun outdoors.

Be sure to carry out a dress-up mirror so the kids can check themselves out. Nothing is more fun than to see kids in all kinds of creative outfits playing outside, they truly become different “people”!! If you have a covered, secured area, you might try setting this up as an Outdoor Play Center.

I find great bargains at my local thrift store. I was able to purchase white lab-type coats that can be used with a Doctor or Dentist’s office theme. Also, old suit coats are available for two to five dollars.

I buy Halloween costumes the week after Halloween at 75% off and stock up for the year with princess gowns and animal costumes.