The Dramatic Play Space provides many opportunities for children to practice "Life Skills". Children learn about every day life in this space. They learn by exploring the items adults use on a daily basis, learn about empathy and nurturing while caring for dolls, and learn about the world around them by pretending to be community helpers, and exploring the roles of these important people during dress-Up play.
This welcoming housekeeping area belongs to Cheryl V.
Creating space for dramatic play
As with any learning space, you'll want to scope out how much room you have to dedicate to this area in your home. This is an active area, so you may want to place it in an area away from your reading area, or other designated quiet spaces.
This well laid out space belongs to Emily R.
In this space you'll want to provide a variety of accessible dramatic play materials for all ages, include materials that represent diversity, make sure your furniture and storage in this area allows children to access items independently, and provide print rich materials: such as cookbooks, travel brochures, maps, etc.
Make sure you make time to participate in pretend play activities (shadowing the younger children), facilitate new dramatic play opportunities, and rotate your items often.
Tips for small spaces
If you are short on space, or don't have a dedicated space consider a portable kitchen, or carve out some room in your own kitchen where children can play beside, and model you. Check out some of these DIY options, or small space options if space is limited.
Still short on space? Bring the pretend play outside outside-you can always create opportunities for dramatic play in your outdoor space.
Another small space alternative is choosing pieces that can be easily transformed into new specialty dramatic play area, such as this Melissa & Doug Market-see different examples of how this market can be transformed in your space.
Create a versatile Dramatic Play Stand yourself with this tutorial
The main component of the dramatic play space is your housekeeping area. The housekeeping area consists of items that children can find around their homes, and opportunities to practice jobs around the home. The basics of this space are a play kitchen, a child sized table & chair set, a doll area, and a place for dress up.
So many fun pieces in this space that belongs to Natasha K. of Red River Early Learning
Provide young Children the opportunity to practice using the tools, and take on the jobs that the adults in their lives do! They can learn to clean and take care of their home in this space. You can add: child sized brooms, dust pans, a vacuum, rags, sponges, feather dusters, washer & dryer sets, and even child size ironing boards and pretend irons.
Cheryl V. provides many opportunities for young children to take on adult roles!
Home maintenance is also an important part of caring for a home. Children love to model adults fixing and building things. For this space you can also include: A work bench, parts for loose play, tools, tool bags, Books about tools, Hard Hats and other Construction Dress Up items.
Props to add to your housekeeping area
Doll Play Area
Children are learning about Self Care and empathy in the dramatic play space. To enhance your area you should add items that allow children to care for babies. Some items to add to this space are: A diverse variety of dolls, doll accessories (doll clothes, cribs. strollers, changing areas), and inclusion items such as wheel chairs and walkers. You can also add books about babies, and photos of babies to this space.
Such a great space to learn about taking care of babies at Julie's Childcare
The dramatic play area should also allow children the opportunity to pretend to be adults, babies, and experience being people in their community, or animals they are learning about. In addition to adult coats, and dresses, you can also add a variety of costumes and accessories for dress-up play. You can include career multicultural, and pretend character items, as well.
When creating this space make sure the dress up items are accessible and easy to put away. Most young children are successful with hanging items back up on hooks, or placing them in bins. Be sure to hang a mirror near this space for children to see themselves.
Amanda W. provides many opportunities to dress up at Tykes n Tots Daycare
Specialty dramatic play
A specialty dramatic play space allows children to take on the roles of people in their community. It also allows them to "visit" places in their community, and try out new experiences.
Exploring a multicultural feast at Cheryl V.'s
Some examples of specialty dramatic play ideas include:
Restaurants: Italian restaurant, Chinese restaurant, sandwich shop, coffee shop
Stores: grocery store , shoe store , flower shop.
Community services: post office, library, school, fire station
Experiences: camping, a trip to the beauty parlor, a trip to the beach
A camping experience at Cheryl V.'s
You can either rotate out your existing housekeeping area into a specialty dramatic space, or create one elsewhere in your home as a temporary learning space. The materials you use to create these specialty spaces can be stored in boxes and brought into your space as the children are interested, or as you change out to a new theme.
Fun market play at Dina C.'s
Add items to your space that encourage Literacy-such as signs, labels, cook books, books about the homes other people live in, and baby books. When you re-create store you can include: Play Money, Purses, Wallets, a Cash Register, Paper Bags, Pens & Paper for writing lists, Play Food, Shopping Carts or baskets, and a Pretend Scale.
Taking on the job of being a veterinarian at Cheryl V.'s
Allow children to take ownership of their own space, and create some of their own specialty spaces. Don't always "set up" all of the materials, instead you can facilitate by asking them what they need. You can invite them to decorate their own spaces by giving them a box of decor that they can use to spruce up their home space for the holidays, or a give them a box of props that they can use to create their own specialty spaces.
Before you purchase furniture for your space, consider using items you have on hand or up-cycle a piece of furniture! An entertainment center, a low shelf on it's side or recycled materials can all be used to create to create something new for this space.
Julie K. of Julie's Childcare transformed this play kitchen into a veterinarian play space for the kids at
Many items can be made from recycled materials for this space-Check out this post for Free and DIY ideas for your dramatic play space.
Cardboard furniture created by Cheryl V.
When purchasing new furniture be sure to consider..
Consider longevity. Select an item that can withstand a lot of use. Check the doors to make sure they are easy to open and close. You can find commercial grade furniture at childcare supply stores such as discount school supply, and lakeshore learning.
Sturdy furniture with plenty of room for materials at Traci G's.
If you are looking for a smaller play kitchen you may want to consider visiting IKEA, or purchasing one on Amazon. Be sure to check craigslist, and other on-line groups for childcare centers that closing, or selling their furniture.
This IKEA kitchen at Tykes n Tots Daycare is a great space saving option, and the TROFAST storage unit provides tons of storage for your pretend play materials.
Pay close attention to the amount of storage space in your play kitchen. Do the pieces you are selecting have enough room to store pots & pans, play food, and plates? It may be necessary to add a n extra storage unit to this space to hold all of your materials.
Before you buy materials for this space, be sure to look around your home. Many items can be made from recycled materials or can be made for this space-Check out this post for Free and DIY ideas for this space.
Amanda W. of Tykes n Tots Daycare sets out loose parts for the children to use with this open ended market stand.
Children love to cook with loose parts, and even create their own materials for this space from paper, felt and and recycled materials.
Cheryl V. making pizza's from felt
Whenever possible try to include "real" housekeeping items in your space (check out my DIY tutorial on how to make a child sized mop for $1). You can pick up many items at your dollar store, yard sales, thrifts stores, or from your clients. Be sure to hang a list letting your families know your plans-they may have items to donate!
As always, check your items to make sure they are safe by enough for the youngest mobile child in your care. Don't forget to cutting off cords, and removing loose parts .
Storing & Rotating materials
Store materials in containers that are easy to access. Labeling storage bins makes it easier for young children to put items away. Take a less is more and only add a limited amount of items to the space-and adding more if you find that children need additional materials .
Tasha H. labeled her bins to make it easy for children to sort the items.
Remember this space doesn't need to be large. Providing the children with a box of dress up clothes, or cooking supplies allows them to use their imagination to create their own pretend play fun.
View more dramatic play spaces!
I hope you have picked up some new ideas, and tips to make your dramatic play space a great space for children to explore!
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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Melissa. On this site you will find a variety of Pre-K printable games, activities, and resources for early childhood educators.
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