Play is more than just entertainment for preschoolers. Through play, young children develop important language, problem-solving, cooperation, math, and fine and gross motor skills. These seven dramatic play ideas for preschoolers provide ample opportunities for your child to learn and have fun at the same time.
Library Pretend Play
For a basic pretend library setup, all you will need is a few of the books you have in your home already. Your child can pretend to be the librarian or a library patron, and you can set up a desk where the “librarian” will work. To enhance the play, you can create your own library cards, book return bins, and return cards for each book. The library patron can ask the librarian questions about the books, and the librarian can help the patron find books, check the books out, and even help to shelve them.
Grocery Store Pretend Play
As with the library pretend play idea, playing grocery store can be done using items you already have in your home. Clear out a couple of shelves and use them to display pantry items such as cans of soup, and boxes of cereal and pasta, as well as fruit, vegetables, and bread. You can label each item with a price, or create signage for different sections of the store. Create money for your child to use that is simple to read and understand. Your child can shop in the grocery store with a shopping bag, and pay for their items with their money. As the cashier, you can help your child count their money and give them change.
Veterinarian Pretend Play
This pretend play idea can also be done with items your preschooler already owns – in this case, their stuffed animals. Pretend that one of the pets is sick or injured, and your child is the veterinarian who is caring for the animal. You can set up an examination table and a little bed for the animal to recover in. You may want to use or create other props such as a toy stethoscope, a bottle for medicine, bandages, and a thermometer. If your family has a pet, this is an ideal opportunity for your child to understand what happens when they’re sick or injured. All children will learn empathy and kindness to animals with this veterinarian pretend play.
Restaurant Pretend Play
Turn mealtimes into educational fun by playing restaurant. This idea is best with simple meals, such as sandwiches. You can help your child prepare the meal as the chef, and you and your child can play restaurant customer and server. The server will show the customer to the table, take their order, bring their food, and give them the bill at the end of the meal. You can also set up your dining room as a restaurant with menus on the table. Not only is this pretend play idea a fun way to enjoy a meal, it can also help your child practice their table manners and restaurant etiquette skills.
Dinosaur Dig Pretend Play
If your preschooler loves dinosaurs, they will enjoy the chance to become an paleontologist in this pretend play idea. If you have a sandbox at home, this is an ideal location for the dig site. Otherwise, you can use a sensory bin or other shallow bin. You can use inexpensive plastic dinosaur toys or fossil skeleton toys, and bury them in a layer of sand, soil, or even coffee grounds. Your child can dig with toy shovels and, once they have excavated a dinosaur, they can use a paintbrush to carefully brush the dirt away. They can take a closer look at their finds with a magnifying glass. This pretend play idea will give your child a better understanding of the work that people such as paleontologists and archeologists do, and help them develop their problem-solving and fine motor skills.
Preschool Pretend Play
When it comes to pretend play ideas, children may often find it easier to return to familiar scenarios. By playing preschool, your child can imagine what it’s like to be a teacher rather than a student. This is a good pretend play idea for several children, where each child takes turns being the teacher. The teacher can tell stories to the students, sing songs, draw pictures, and build with blocks. You’ll need simple items such as paper, crayons, books, and toys. This may also be a unique opportunity for you to discover your child’s feelings about their experiences at their preschool.
Storybook Pretend Play
If your preschooler has a favorite book or fairy tale, they will likely enjoy making it come to life through make-believe. For this activity, you may need to create specific props or costumes. However, using minimal props and costumes may further increase your child’s own imagination. For example, perhaps your preschooler thinks Little Red Riding Hood should have a sister called Little Green Riding Hood. Encourage your child to perform their favorite story in new ways, and help them to develop their confidence and creativity.
Playing pretend and make-believe are important ways for preschoolers to learn valuable life skills. With these seven dramatic play ideas, you and your preschooler can have fun together while they develop these skills.