Creative Arts Foundation: 4 - Dramatic Play

Topic: CA4.1 - Demonstrate creative expression through dramatic play

Creative expression through dramatic play provides children the opportunity to practice life and develop empathy through engaging in various roles in society and family structures in a safe environment. Dramatic play gives young children an opportunity to explore the world, process feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, and assume various roles.

Creative expression through dramatic play leads to:
*Positive communication skills
*Sense of self and confidence
*Empathy
*Problem solving and flexible thinking
*Cultural appreciation
*Understanding and appreciation for dramatic plays and theater experiences

Looking Ahead to Kindergarten Family Engagement Special Populations
With prompting and support, in dramatic play or guided drama experiences, kindergarten students will invent and inhabit an imaginary place/environment (Th.Cr.1.1.K.a) and use available materials to create props, puppets, and costume pieces (Th:Cr.1.1K.b). Students will also interact with peers and contribute to dramatic play or guided drama experiences (Th:Cr2-K.a). Lastly, students will identify characters (Th:Pr4.1.k) and name and describe settings (Th:Re8.1.k) in dramatic play or guided drama experiences. Encourage families to:

*Engage in dramatic play alongside children, following their lead as dramatic play unfolds.
*Support children’s self-expression and discovery varied interests.
*Provide space and time for children to engage in dramatic play and encourage the flexible use of materials (e.g. boxes, scarves, etc.).

Educators can:

*Ensure that real objects are available to children in the dramatic play area.
*Ensure that materials are accessible to all children regardless of mobility (e.g. children in brace or wheelchair)
*For exceptional learners and DLL, acknowledge and respond to verbal and non-verbal contributions of all children during play.

Powerful Practices
Across all developmental stages, educators can:

*Encourage the use of dramatic play to process emotions and life experiences (e.g. processing the arrival of a new sibling, moving to a new house, family separation, etc.).
*Provide materials that reflect the cultures and communities of children, families, and staff within the environment.
*Provide open ended materials that are easily accessible to provide links to other concepts and topics (e.g. materials that are relevant to children’s daily experiences).
*Be flexible in adapting the schedule to focus on children’s interests and meaningful learning opportunities.
*Provide materials that reflect the diversity of age, ability, family structure, gender, employment/job roles, etc (e.g. providing dresses, ties, suit coats, hats, and encouraging children to use all materials).
*Support fluid movement of materials throughout the indoor and outdoor environment (i.e. dramatic play not just confined to the dramatic play center).
*Ensure materials are available that encourage problem solving, creative thinking, and flexibility (e.g. cloth, scarves, cardboard boxes, etc.).
*Engage in dramatic play alongside children, following their lead as dramatic play unfolds.
*Follow verbal and non-verbal cues of children during dramatic play and expand on topics (e.g. educator asks to write down the recipe of a child making spaghetti in the dramatic play center).
*Use dramatic play opportunities to enrich vocabulary and expand children’s thinking by asking open ended and meaningful questions to expand.

Infant

Acknowledge and respond to infants imitating actions and expressions of caregivers
(e.g. infant comes up to educator with a spoon and educator pretends to eat it)

Play games with predictable responses and outcomes (e.g. Peek-A-Boo)

Provide materials that prompt infants to imitate actions of others (e.g. baby dolls, pots/pans, etc.)

Responding to verbal and non-verbal cues using props (e.g. infant brings up and a piece of food and educator “bites” it)

Create environments that supports onlooker play (e.g. place infant on the floor and in close proximity to peers throughout the day)

Younger Toddler
Provide open ended materials and encourage children to freely explore materials indoors and outdoors (e.g. creating muddies outside, using natural materials as “food”, etc.)

Model the use of objects as symbols for other things (e.g. using a block as a phone, putting a bowl on head as a “hat”)

Read and make accessible books that include characters and animals (e.g. while reading books about a farm, asking “What does the cow say?)

Sing songs and fingerplays that include characters and animals (e.g. Old McDonald, Animal Action, etc.)

Create environments that supports solitary and parallel play (e.g. have duplicates of similar objects and space where children can play independently or side by side)

Older Toddler
Provide open ended materials and encourage children to freely explore materials indoors and outdoors (e.g. using cloth to become a superhero, animal, family member, etc.)

Model taking on characteristics of people, characters, or animals (e.g. educator puts on a cape to become a superhero)

Create environments that supports parallel play (e.g. have duplicates of similar objects and space where children can play alongside each other)

Younger Preschool
Provide open ended materials and encourage children to freely explore materials indoors and outdoors (e.g. using acorns or other natural materials as “food” or people)

Provide extended opportunities for children to engage in child-directed dramatic play, following the cues of children (i.e. Child approaches educator and says, “Can I take your order?” and educator responds, “What are my options?”)

Play songs that encourage and promote pretend play and movement (e.g. Bear Hunt, Wheels on the Bus)

Create environments that supports associative play (e.g. two or more children are discussing their buildings but may not be working on the same project)

Older Preschool
Provide open ended materials and encourage children to freely explore materials indoors and outdoors (e.g. using acorns or other natural materials as “food” or people, mud kitchens, hoses, etc.)

Play songs that encourage and promote pretend play and movement (e.g. Bear Hunt, Wheels on the Bus)

Provide and rotate safe real world props and materials (e.g. phones, keyboard, desk phone, plates, forks and spoons, etc.)

Create environments that supports cooperative play (e.g. children may plan and assign roles while playing restaurant)