The Imagination Station: Dress Up and Pretend Play Kindergarten Style
September 24, 2012
Let the countdown to Halloween begin!
Like many kindergarten teachers, I like to set up dramatic play centers around the classroom to tie into holidays, seasons or other things we’re learning about. With Halloween just around the corner and on the mind of every kindergartner, it’s a perfect time to decorate a new play center.
In my classroom I call the dramatic play area our Imagination Station. Pretend play learning is all about relating to other people, so I encourage the children to really focus their minds and imaginations as they take on the roles of others.
The imagination stations we create throughout the year incorporate numerous objectives from the kindergarten curriculum. Just like in the real world, our pretend play tasks require us to draw on reading, writing, math and science skills. For example, when the children act out a restaurant scene, they read menus, write down orders, add up costs and communicate with each other. Research shows that children use a much higher level of vocabulary when they are acting out roles. I especially love how creative they can be when making and adding props to each imagination center.
Ready to set up an Imagination Station at home? Here are a few ideas to try:
- Airport—Have your child create uniforms. Arrange your chairs to look like the inside of an airplane. Write tickets, itineraries and passports. Have the flight attendant write down drink and snack orders.
- Bank—Count, borrow and loan out play money.
- Beauty Shop—Use a pretend telephone and book appointments. Style hair and pay with a charge card or cash. Don’t forget to leave a tip!
- Campground—Design and write signs stating the campground rules. Draw a map of your campground to indicate where to find campsites, water and supplies.
- Post Office—Create a mailbox, and then fill it with letters that your child writes and addresses. Then sort the mail for delivery.
- Restaurant—Create a pizza parlor or another one of your favorite places to eat. Write menus and signs. Take food orders and design pizzas using different colored construction paper. Playing restaurant is great for a larger group of kids because there are so many roles to play: the customer, the manager, the cook, the host or hostess, the server and the busser to clean and set the tables.
- Animal Clinic or Shelter—Use stuffed animals and play the role of a veterinarian. Write down the animal’s symptoms and prescribe remedies.
Whatever you decide to play, remember to have writing materials handy to encourage literacy, including clipboards, notebooks, pencils, pens, post-it notes, magazines, mail, books, and boxes.
One of the keys to motivating young children is to make learning fun. Halloween is the perfect time for setting up an Imagination Station at your home—so don’t delay, encourage more play!
What other pretend play places does your child enjoy? How will your child’s Halloween costume inspire dramatic play at your house?
More on pretend play:
Shelby Moore is in her seventh year teaching kindergarten at an inner-city school in Houston and was recently awarded as one of the East Region's Campus Teachers of the Year. Shelby lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, baby and Labradoodle.
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