Use the dramatic play ideas below to create fun and creative play areas to foster imagination in the children in your care.
Once the play area is set up, be there to supervise but interfere as little as possible.
Let the children learn social skills and to work out differences on their own.
There are a multitude of ideas for dramatic play centers. Try out some of the ideas listed below.
Most props can be found in your own home. If not, improvise. Use something that is "close" to what you need. The kids won't care. They are naturals at using their imaginations.
Some of the ideas will keep the kids entertained for a day or so... others they will want to participate in over and over again.
An assortment of books and magazines. Use any type of books, not just children's books. Use index cards taped inside the front cover for the checking out process. Small homemade library cards. Desk or small table for "librarian". "Quiet please" sign.
Pretend laminated menus. Play money. Chef hat. apron, pad of paper and pen for the "waitress". Find pictures of food in old magazines to decoupage on plastic plates. Table, chairs, and tablecloth. Doll high chair, so "baby" can come along to eat. Plastic cups and silverware. Napkins. Cash register.
Plastic hard hats. Play tools and tool belts. Set of large blocks. Construction zone signs.
This is a fun dramatic play idea. The kids loved it.
Make a tent (real or a draped sheet). Roll newspaper tightly into a log shape, tape securely, paint brown, and let dry. Use red or orange cellophane taped over a flashlight. Secure this is the center of the logs to create a "fire". Give each child their own flashlight. Use pots and pans for cooking over the fire with play food. Tape heavy black paper over the windows to simulate darkness. Make tiny pinholes in the paper to create the illusion of stars. Create a stream or river out of blue paper. Make dowel stick and fishing line fishing poles. Attach a magnet on the end of each pole. Make construction paper fish. Attach a magnet to the fish also. Sing songs and tell stories around the campfire.
Combs and brushes. Hair clips. Old wigs. Old hair blow dryers with the cords cut off. Cover the part of the blow dryer that air would come out of with tape. This will prevent it from becoming tangled in hair. Plastic rollers. Towels. Sheets to cover the customer. Smock for the hairdresser. Chairs for the customers. Set up a waiting area. An old lamp shade will make a neat dryer. Cash register. Money.
*Do not feel this dramatic play idea is strictly a girls activity; boys will want to play just as much.
Desk or table and chairs. Old typewriters, calculators, or keyboards. Pads of paper, pens, pencils. Index cards and envelopes. Stamper and stamp pad. Old telephone. Business suits from a thrift store. This dramatic play idea is also a good use for all the junk mail that normally gets thrown away.
Eye chart. Variety of dollar store sunglasses with the lenses removed. Chair for exam. Wand to cover one eye. Waiting area with magazines. Unbreakable mirror for trying on glasses. Smock for the eye doctor, and the assistant who helps people choose glasses.
Lab coat and stethoscope. Stuffed animals. Pet cages, clipboard, and pen.
Make play dough. Recipe: 4 cups flour, ½ cup salt, 2 packages unsweetened (any flavor drink mix, 3 tablespoons oil, and two cups boiling water. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the water and oil. Mix quickly. Let cool, and mix with your hands to form play dough. In an airtight container, this should keep well about two weeks. Use the play dough with cookie cutters, rolling pins, and baking sheets. Toy cakes and donuts. Plastic plates and a table for displays. Aprons. Cash register and money.
*A word of caution on this particular dramatic play idea: This is an activity the kids will want to play over and over again. And over. And over.
Disposable or low cost paint hats. White T-shirts (painters always wear white). Small and well cleaned out paint cans or buckets. Paint trays, rollers, and assorted size paintbrushes. This dramatic play idea is a good outdoor activity. Let them use water to paint the house, steps, sidewalk and deck.
Create a spaceship out of an old appliance box. Cover the window of the spaceship with black paper. Make pinholes to simulate stars. Use your imagination to make a spacesuit. Two clean two-liter plastic bottles, taped together, and attached around the chest with Velcro will create an oxygen tank. Old clean ice cream buckets with an area cut out for the face make great helmets.
Let the kids use flashlights inside the spaceship. Crumple newspaper on the floor and cover with a gray sheet. The children can then "go walking on the moon".
Save empty food boxes. Parents, if asked, will be more than happy to provide you with a variety of boxes. Fill with crumpled newspaper and tape securely shut. Use plastic fruits and vegetables. Shelves for displaying food. Baskets for shopping. Table and register for checking out. Play money.
*Helpful hint: Remember that stores have stock people. Give one child a special smock or shirt to be the stock person. That way the items go back on the shelves for extended play.
Singing Talent Show:
Create a stage and an area for the audience. Make microphones using empty bathroom tissue tubes. Stuff with newspaper, place a golf ball on top, and wrap the entire microphone in black tape. Play children's songs that the "singer" or "singer's" can sing along to.
*Special note: Some children will not care to be the singer, and will be perfectly happy to remain a member of the audience. Children should be encouraged, never pushed.
Plastic vases, old silk flowers (another item parents will readily donate), ribbons and foam blocks to hold the flowers on place. Display area. Table with cash register and play money.
No Water Car Wash:
Create cars out of cardboard boxes. Cut off the top and bottom and create handles on the sides. Use paint or construction paper to create headlights, taillights, and wheels. Hang plastic streamers from the ceiling for the cars to go through. Use empty buckets, big sponges, clean empty spray bottles, and towels.
*Special note: Instead of just creating cars, make a police car, fire engine, bus, boat, or airplane for other play activities.
This dramatic play idea will turn the ordinary into something special. If you are planning a movie for the children anyway, turn the area into a movie theatre. Make a poster of the movie that will be playing. Make a roped off area the children must stand behind. Make tickets. Have a table to buy tickets and snacks. Cash register and money. Dim the lights for the show._________________________________________________________________
This dramatic play idea is a favorite of children. Gather together a variety of men’s and women’s clothing. Don’t forget the hats, shoes, and chunky jewelry. Display the clothing. Have an area with a full sized unbreakable mirror so the children can "check out" how they look. Table with cash register. Purses and wallets. Play money._________________________________________________________________
Red and white checked tablecloth. Paper plates, cups, and napkins. Make your own laminated pizzas with thin cardboard cut into circles and pictures of food. Make some whole pizzas and some cut into slices. Menu, cash register, and play money._________________________________________________________________
This list of dramatic play ideas is just to get you started. By using your own imagination, I'm sure you'll come up with many more possibilities for the children in your daycare.
For some fun kids activities, go to KIDS ART ACTIVITIES for:
OR… hop on over to the FREE PRINTABLES section for:
Both sections have lots of ideas to make planning activities for your daycare practically effortless.
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