Most people think of putting on a play when they hear the word dramatic play. However, there are many simple dramatic play activities that are appropriate for preschoolers. Dramatic play is very important to help children develop creativity, imagination and verbal skills. These activities can also encourage children to express their emotion in appropriate ways.
Provide a Dress Up Box
Provide your preschooler with a dress up box that contains many outfits to encourage dramatic play. You can often find dress up clothes at yard sales, thrift stores or after Halloween sales. Be sure to save your kid’s Halloween costumes to add to the box. Although many parents provide dress up clothes for girls, preschool boys also enjoy dressing up in fun outfits. Some dress up box additions for boys include old ties, suit jackets and sports jerseys. In addition to clothes, be sure to include props such as hats, shoes and jewelry.
Create Play Centers
A great way to encourage pretend play is to create play centers throughout your house. Use pretend food, cash register and a shopping cart to create a store for you child. If you do not have all of these items, make them yourselves or pretend. Help your child get started by talking about some of the activities that you do in a store and then step back and watch her continue the story. You can set up a pretend school by providing a white board, books, papers and pupils (stuffed animals). If your child is interested in the mail, give him some junk mail and a bag to carry the mail so that he can play postman. Another idea is to set up an office by giving your child a notepad, calculator and junk mail.
Dance to Music
Although music may not come to mind when you think of dramatic play activities, interpreting music is a great way for preschoolers to learn about music and expressing emotion. Find a large area where your preschooler can easily move around without bumping into furniture and play some classical music. Tell her to listen to the music and ask her how it makes her feel. Have her dance to the music to express the emotion of the music. This activity is even more fun and effective if you join your preschooler in the dance. Try playing different types of music and point out the different ways she dances based on the sounds.
Put On a Puppet Show
Make puppets with your child out of paper bags or socks. You can also use already-made puppets. Have your child brainstorm about a story using the puppets. Show her how to make the puppets talk and how to use different voices for the characters. You may want to demonstrate a short puppet show using two of the puppets. Once she understands the concept, hand the puppets to her and enjoy the show that she puts on.
Act Out a Book
Get one of you child’s favorite books and read through it together with your preschooler. Talk about the book and what happens during the book. Tell your child that you are going to read the book again and that this time she gets to act out the book. Encourage her to be as silly and dramatic as she wants. Books that have simple plots and action are best for this activity. If your child has a book that she has memorized, have her “read” the book and let you take a turn at acting it out.