Dramatic Play Activities for Preschoolers

by Audrey Lucas

    If your preschooler spends much of her time acting out fantasies and taking on wacky characters, don't sound the crazy alarm just yet. This pretending plays a crucial role in many areas of preschool development. Acting out scenarios allows children to make sense of the interactions they see among adults, giving them practice for life. Through dramatic play, preschoolers learn to communicate, solve problems and cooperate. These skills make up the foundation for a lifetime of positive social interactions. So, next time your little one approaches you as a princess, doctor or zookeeper, channel your inner thespian and join in on her imaginative play.

    Pet Shop

    If you have a little animal lover, provide a space with materials in your home for a pretend pet shop. Gather stuffed animals from around the house to act as the furry occupants of the shop. You can also provide your child with feeding and grooming supplies, placing her in a caretaker role. Work together to create signs with prices for the animals to promote math and literacy. Once you have set up the shop, take on the role of customer and shop for the perfect pet. Ask lots of questions about the animals, which will prompt your preschooler to communicate and interact.

    Restaurant

    Meal times present an opportunity to play restaurant at home. Not only will it give your little actress an opportunity for dramatic play, this activity also helps train her for those dreadful nights spent in public restaurants with a preschooler. Take turns playing waitress and customer and encourage her to order food clearly and politely while using proper table manners. When her turn comes to play the waitress, provide a pad so she can pretend to write your order. This simple step promotes literacy by allowing your child to connect spoken words with written language. Who knows, she might even eat her lunch during this fun activity. Wouldn't that be a bonus!

    Doctor's Office

    Setting up a doctor's office at home can help your preschooler deal with any anxiety surrounding her own checkups. Place dolls in a waiting room and send them in one at a time for shots, bandages, temperature checks and eye exams by your little doctor in training. Encourage her to explain proper health and hygiene to the poor, sickly dollies, allowing her to review these important topics and take responsibility for her own personal care. Once the dolls have all checked out, lie down and give your kiddo the opportunity to review your health as well.

    School

    Preschool children love to take on the role of familiar authority figures such as parents and teachers. Playing school at home lets them guide the education process. Get down on the carpet and join in on a fun circle time navigated by your little one. Give her this time to take you on a tour of a typical day at preschool. You can even set up centers for science, reading, art and math, making an authentic preschool setting in your home.

    About the Author

    Based in Southern California, Audrey Lucas has nine years of experience teaching preschool children. She contributes to the parenting section of her local children's magazine. Lucas graduated from California State University, San Marcos, in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with an emphasis in literature and writing.

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