Benefits of Dramatic Play + Dramatic Play Ideas to Get You Started

Dramatic play is a powerful form of play based learning for toddlers and preschoolers. They'll be busy running around engaged in play, not even realising all the things they're learning! If you're looking to incorporate more pretend play, using our dramatic play ideas is a great place to start. In this post, I'll be sharing everything you need to know about pretend play for toddlers and preschoolers from the benefits of dramatic play to some dramatic play ideas to get you started!

Benefits of dramatic play. Dramatic play ideas.

 

Dramatic Play


Dramatic play is one of our favourite forms of play based learning! Watching your little one run around pretending to be a chef in a restaurant trying to take your order or a firefighter spraying out the fire is so heartwarming. 

While toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy dramatic play, so will older school age kids. It's definitely not limited to younger children, though they will interact with pretend play a little differently as their development continues to develop.

We hope this post helps break down dramatic play so you can get started implementing it with your toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids.


What is dramatic play?


Now before we get too deep into it here, let's first discuss what dramatic play even is. It has many names and is often referred to as pretend play or imaginative play as well. It is the act of taking on roles of a particular character through various activities, games, and scenarios. 

As children first enter the toddler stage, they will start embracing dramatic play by pretending to talk on the phone or cook some soup in a pot. As they continue to develop, you will notice they get more and more detailed in their play.

As they approach preschool and primary school ages, they will begin to act out more detailed scenarios and may even display full performances.




Benefits of dramatic play



As mentioned earlier, pretend play helps toddlers and preschoolers learn. What I love is that the ways in which they learn stretch across a variety of areas. Below are some of the main benefits of dramatic play.

Community: Through dramatic play, they'll learn about the world around them. When they're pretending that they're a doctor, police officer, firefighter, or something else entirely - they're learning about the people in their community.

Language: As children take on roles different from themselves, they learn to express things through language in a variety of ways. When they begin playing in groups, they also find ways to explain themselves to their peers.

Teamwork: Engaging in dramatic play with others forces children to work together. Problems will arise and they'll be presented with the opportunity to find solutions alongside peers. They have to work together to get the most out of it!

Math skills: As your child is pretending to work a cash register at a grocery store or read off the price on a menu as a server at a restaurant, they're learning important math skills! Everything from number recognition to money will naturally present itself. You'll be surprised just how many concepts they can pick up on from pretend play alone.

Literacy skills: Just like with math, different scenarios will naturally improve literacy skills. Utilizing different signs, charts, and props will surround your child with opportunities to work on literacy. It also encourages comprehension when they begin to act out different stories they're already familiar with.

Creative thinking: Preschoolers may also come up with their own scenarios to engage in. When they go down this route, they are developing their imagination and learning to think out of the box in certain situations. 

Developing life skills: When they're pretending to assemble a taco, wash dishes, or drive a car - they're starting to develop important life skills! This can really help set them up for the future in ways that are completely child-led.

And guess what? There are even more benefits to pretend play that I haven't covered here. The chances to learn this way are endless.


Types of dramatic play



Now that you're sold on how incredible dramatic play can be for preschoolers and toddlers, let's talk about the different types of dramatic play. There are a few ways to approach this so let's go over the basics.

Unstructured dramatic play: Chances are... your child is already engaging in unstructured dramatic play. This is when kids use what is available to them to dream up their own scenarios. The couch is a pirate ship, their pants are a pair of bunny ears, or their leftover milk from cereal is a witch's brew. The only limitation here is the extent they stretch their imaginations!

Structured dramatic play: Structure dramatic play is created when a parent or teacher sets a scene up for them. It typically includes various props and printables. You may create a scene for a restaurant, for example, and children take on the roles that is laid out for them.

It's important to note that neither is better than the other and both types should exist in your child's play. Playing outside can invite lots of chances for imaginative play!



How to encourage dramatic play



The good news about pretend play is that there really isn't much to do in order to encourage kids to get involved. Toddlers, preschoolers, and older children naturally want to engage in dramatic play as often as possible. 

Some ways to encourage it might be:
  • Laying out old hats, scarves, dresses, etc to play dress up
  • Saving old food boxes to play grocery store
  • Turning off the TV to encourage your child to explore
  • Planning playdates (if you can) so they can role play with other children
  • Providing various toys that invite pretend play activities
  • Suggest different ideas of characters they can be and get involved



Dramatic play ideas


If you'd like to start setting up more structured dramatic play, I have a few ideas for you to get started! The links below will take you to the printable sets available in our shop so you can easily set up very engaging scenes for your child. Be sure to laminate the sets to get lots of use out of them!

Bakery Dramatic Play: Let your child turn into a baker with this setup! They can pretend to cook up cookies, cakes, donuts, and more for their customers. Includes 27 pages of printables to create a very engaging bakery!

Restaurant Dramatic Play: If they really love to cook, they can run their own restaurant. They can take orders, cook up delicious meals, and complete transactions. This set includes 32 pages of resources for a functioning restaurant! 

Vet's Office Dramatic Play: Animal lovers everywhere will love this one! They may already be treating toy animals and this set really levels up that experience. It includes 23 pages of printable resources so they can treat patients, keep records, and prescribe medicine to help their furry friends feel better!

Post Office Dramatic Play: For kids fascinated with the post, they will LOVE pretending to send mail. This set includes 24 pages of fun resources to write letters, send packages, and more.

Fire Station Dramatic Play: If you have a budding firefighter in the making, they'll LOVE this fire station set. Includes 26 pages of resources to teach fire safety and what firefighters do to keep us safe!

Dentist Dramatic Play: Let children learn about the importance of teeth brushing as they pretend to be a dentist! With 30 pages of printables, there will be no shortage of fun. Watch as they remind patients to brush, run xrays, and more.

Grocery Store Dramatic Play: Grocery stores are such fun centres for children! This 27 page set is perfect for making a shopping list, budgeting with coupons, checking out with a cashier, and more.

Hospital Dramatic Play: Watch children become doctors and nurses with this exciting set! They can patch up broken arms, prep for surgery, and more. Includes 26 pages perfect for hours of fun.



Final thoughts


Dramatic play is such an incredible form of play based learning that children love. Watch as they take on a variety of roles in the world around them. From math and literacy skills to creative thinking - watch as they learn while they play.

No matter if your toddler, preschooler or older kid wants to adventure around on their own or get involved in structured dramatic play, they are sure to have lots of fun with our dramatic play printable sets.

I hope this post about dramatic play helped you understand what dramatic play is, the benefits of dramatic play and how to implement it in your home!


Benefits of dramatic play for preschoolers and toddlers. Dramatic play ideas.


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