Ideas for Dramatic Play

dramatic play
The Question:
I’m wondering what other kindergarten teachers do to liven up their dramatic play center? In my classroom we’ve done: a flower shop, dentist office, a day at the beach, among others. I’m curious what other teachers do to create an inviting and play-filled dramatic play center?
The Answers:
Miss Bindergarten
In Miss Bindergarten takes a field trip with Kindergarten they visit the bakery, fire station, post office, library and playground and look for the different shapes in each spot. This is a tie in for a literacy center for sure.
Cheri
Add puppets
Janice
 A vet clinic
Erin
Restaurant
Jennifer
 School bus, toy store, pet show
Jennifer
 Bakery, resturant, house. I was just certified with NASA so the home center will soon become the space center!
Allie
 I do a vet, doctor’s office, post office, grocery store, nursery, bake shop using the easy bake oven, news station and teacher.
Nancy
An ice cream shop. I wound up pairs of socks, brown, white and pink for ice cream balls, brown yarn for chocolate sauce, cotton balls for whip cream, beans for nuts, colored math chips for sprinkles and plastic grapes for cherries. I made some order forms and the kids fill the orders. I also have Chocolate playdough and a big container of pom-poms for measuring into a variety of empty ice cream containers.
Cherie 
Pizza shop,farmers market,birthday party,christmas tree decorating station
Sarah
 tent
Lizette
Dramatic play center’s. Huh, when do you have time for this??
Libby
We aren’t allowed to have dramatic play anymore…..academics only……if we had one, there would have to be word cards or math problems or something….we don’t have art or dramatic play or blocks
Edie

We don’t have dramatic play.

Crystal 
Wow. Sounds fun. We aren’t allowed one either. Not academic enough. ;(

Suzanne 

 We don’t get to have a dramatic play center…. OR blocks….OR recess.
Bettina
 No dramatic play for us either. Only literacy and math stations. We do have blocks, just never enough time for them!

Anna

 No recess???
Aimee 
 I’m same as Libby…no play areas, no recess..strictly academics …it’s terrible.
Nicki 
No longer allowed dramatic play here either.
Kristin
I USED to do a post office, always a favorite. Bring in dollar store envelopes (they can only use one per day). Good ole restaurant was always a hit! Have fun!
Gail
 No dramatic centers of any kind!
Jen
 No dramatic play centers. Same as Bettina.
Cheryl
 None for us either! So sad!
Danielle
 I’m not allowed to have a dramatic play center.

Edie Naylor 

No recess??! That’s nuts!

Karen 

 We have one that we use for indoor recess when the weather is bad. It’s the most popular center we have.
Lori
We can have a housekeeping center and I had one, but got rid of it because we do not have time for it….we have math centers and literacy centers….no time for blocks and such.
Jenn
 I got the biggest pot i could find, and did the book Stone Soup.  We made ingredient lists and got a huge wooden spoon and they would act out the book with food we made from cut out papers and paper mache.  I also turned it into a bear cave when we learned about bears. The kids decorated it and we learned about hibernation. butcher block paper was my best friend.
Post office was big too… I miss pre K, third grade isn’t as much fun:(
Missy
Kids’ favorite…go to the fabric store and buy some inexpensive tulle/netting in different colors and sizes. The KIDS turn it into all kinds of things: capes, bridal veils, dresses, apons, long hair, picnic blankets, baby bedding, etc…their imagination is the limit!
Lynne
 I have 2…my housekeeping corner, and costumes have really livened that up, and then a “theme” corner…where I also always put an academic center for centers time. That includes: farm, forest with bear cave followed by tee pee, manger scene with costumes, igloo, store, post office, rain forest, and ocean.
Heather
No dramatic play for my kiddos either. If they’re lucky, they get about 15-20 mins of academic only centers (I’ve squeezed in play-doh & legos for motor skills, but who knows how long that will last).
Carrie 
I can’t believe so many people don’t have this anymore. Sounds like the fun and exploration of kindergarten is leaving many schools
My student’s favorite is the veterinarian’s office. I put a doctor’s kit and stuffed animals in. I do this while we talk about community helpers. I also do the post office and talk about letter writing. Literacy centers can be dramatic and interesting! Thanks for other fun ideas. I like a day at the beach!

Why are so many people taking the play out of kindergarten? In Ontario, Canada our kindergarten curriculum is called “play based learning!”
Vicky
 Wish we could play more:(. You learn a LOT that way;). No dramatic play here. 20 minute recess though!
MaryLou 
 No dramatic play or art center…no holiday celebrations unless it is CCSS based and approved by the principal…what is this world coming to??
Susan 
 A fire station in October
Sharel  
A coffee shop, a fix-it center, an animal hospital are a few…
Jennifer 
I’ve done a gift wrapping station and a cookie bakery during the holidays. My kids love it!
Elizabeth 
We do an “life long ago” cabin…..it matches our social studies curriculum. There are all types of old toys and tools….plus a paper fire place and dress up clothing that are similar to what a pioneer would have worn.
Melissa
 Camping, doctor’s office, tool bench for Santa’s workshop, for a few ideas…
Tanya
 Post office, gift wrapping center, hospital, and pizza shop!
Camping and grocery store too!
Pamelyn 
 Native American tipi at Thanksgiving, office (I put an old typewriter in there), a picnic
Buena 
Dramatic play?? Play?? what the heck is that??
Rachel 
 We did a vet’s office/animal adoption center. We used our light box as an xray light box. I used transparencies to print actual animal x-rays on, it was really neat. I also turned mine into Snowflake Bentley’s workshop. We had all kinds of different things to make snowflakes.  It was awesome. Then we hung them around the room as the children made them.
Mary 
Connect theme to your current unit of study – ie: farm stand during unit on Fall/ Harvest. Make center signs for all of your play based centers linking them to CC standards to demonstrate how a play based curriculum promotes intentional teaching and learning. I hope you have a Director of Early Childhood in your school system who will help you to advocate for best practice in early childhood !!
Mary
 Rachel, glad to see your post. We all need to advocate for the value of a play based curriculum!
Courtney 
 What states do all of you live in where you do not have dramatic play?? You can connect SEVERAL standards to each center (that’s how I am able to include them in my lesson plans…)
Elizabeth
I wish teachers would stand up to administration more and advocate for the benefits of play for their little ones. Do some research and present it in a succinct and professional manner so that you can prove how much children learn from interacting during play. With this awful event in CT, let’s think about what matters more: pushing five-year-olds to add and subtract, or problem solving with peers in a peaceful way. You don’t learn peace from pushing academics. You learn it through play.
Lynn
 Goodness, we haven’t had a dramatic play center in more than ten years. (Jacksonville, FL)
Amy
The research is out there on how important play, movement and fresh air is to all kids. No recess or play is hurtful to children.
Elizabeth 
 Great ideas by the way! Thanks for sharing!
Cheri  
I am just sickened by the number of people who don’t have time for dramatic play centers. You are calling it the wrong thing….call it oral language development….isn’t speaking and listening still part of your curriculum? or you could tie it in to literacy…call it a literacy center, and stock it with the things that tie in to your literature and history…..you have to get creative when you have an administration that is micromanaging your class! Kids NEED to play a bit…it stimulates learning…jeesh….let the pendulum swing!
Also…some states have art standards, and performing arts are just as important as visual art!
Penny
We don’t get to have one anymore. So sad!
Joan 
I believe that dramatic play is meeting the speaking and listening CC standards. We also change it up with literacy activities. Talk about relevancy.
Tobie 
 Not allowed in Kindergarten in our school district  (this is one of many things that I don’t agree with)
Cindy
Most of the time it’s a regular housekeeping center, but we also do a post office, store, restaurant and castle. We turn it into a space shuttle for a few weeks, into an African hut for a few weeks, and into a science lab for a few weeks, all fun. That’s when I teach in California. This year I’m teaching in England, and since there is no separation of church and state, (and our Religious Education theme was Judaism) the kids turned it into a synagogue. That was a new one for me!
Dawn
 I just moved my two cradles into my loft and added a laundry basket with baby clothes for dolls, baby bottles, blankets, baby spoons, and some other baby stuff. My kids LOVE it and even the boys want to pretend to be fathers!!! So cute to see them so sensitive at such a young age :0)
Sue
 We made it a grocery store!
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