“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers… he’s one of my childhood “heroes”. This is perhaps my favourite quote about play because it captures the truth of play. It really IS the work of childhood.
As a former early childhood educator, I’m a huge advocate for large blocks of uninterrupted play time. I personally struggle with “getting into” play but I love to set up play provocations for my children. In fact, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen pictures of the play spaces I create with and for my children.
What’s wonderful about play spaces is that it’s a fabulous opportunity to teach your children about the roles people live and work in. Plus there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate curriculum (and you get to do so in the subtlest of ways).
Planning the dramatic play space.
There a few things I consider before I set up a dramatic play space.
1- Is it applicable to a recent experience or an interest of my children?
The most successful dramatic play spaces will be ones that my children are most interested in. Sometimes I can “introduce” an interest by setting up a space but usually I stick to branching off of something they like.
2- What can I do to make it educational?
I try to think of ways to make the experience educational. Are there signs that my children can write? Could they calculate prices?
3- How can I expand on the idea if the interest takes off?
I assess if there are related field trips we could take if their interest grows. I also research possible books we can read and people we could “interview”.
5 Fabulous Dramatic Play Spaces for ChildrenCheck out these five fun and inspiring dramatic place space ideas! #homeschooling #play Click To Tweet
When we rowed the book, Little Nino’s Pizzeria, I set up a pizza parlor for the girls. I added a cash register with toy money, used old pizza flyers, and plates. I also cut out pizza shapes and pizza toppings from felt material so that they could “make” pizzas.
The Grocery Store
My girls almost always accompany me to the grocery store. They had a delightful time setting up and playing in our grocery store! To assemble this space, I included a cash register with money, toy food, a shopping basket, and shopping bags.
The Lemonade Stand
This past summer, my girls had a blast selling lemonade as a fundraiser for the local children’s hospital. My youngest daughter recently requested that we play lemonade stand. I of course, complied! I included toy money, a cash “box”, a lemon juicer, toy lemons (which are made of felt), and signs.
My oldest daughter recently accompanied her Girl Guide troop on a tour of the community library. She came home enthused by what she saw, so we decided to set up a library of our own! The girls made library cards for every member of the family, we gathered plenty of books, made signs, and set up a book return bin. I also let them use the “Home Library” app on the iPad to check books in and out of the library.
Baby Bath Time
If she could, my youngest daughter would take several baths a day. I decided that it might be time to set up a bath for her baby doll. I included a small bin with warm water, face cloths, towels, a rubber duck, baby “shampoo”, and dry clothes.
If you want to continue to see our dramatic play spaces, make sure to follow us on Instagram. We like to share pictures of all of our play spaces there!
Do me a favor, will you? Share in the comments, do you set up dramatic play spaces for your children? Then share this article with your homeschooling friends.
I do sometimes, but usually only if my kids have sparked an idea in me. A couple months ago (in the dead of winter) my kids said they wished they could go camping and fishing with their Pa. I cordoned off our downstairs hallway with a baby gate so their little sister couldn’t come in and tear it all up and I created a “forest” with a green blanket and some woodland stuffed animals, a “campfire” with some paper towel tubes and orange construction paper, and a “lake” with a blue blanket and some toy fish. I gave them some pretend fishing poles made from paperboard and put all of their pretend food and tea set stuff in there. The only thing missing was a tent but they didn’t notice :).
I love the camping play space idea. We did that last summer but I should pull that one out during the winter too! We have a pup tent we can use as well.
It sounds like you created a fabulous space for them Amanda!
I’m always such a fan of your play spaces on Instagram, Jennifer. It’s such a fun and innovating way to let kids explore and learn in their own way and time. My daughter is really into grocery shopping too. So we often set that up often. She has a little shopping cart and a cash register, and I give her old expired coupons and receipts to play with. She has a blast; we’ve even learned numbers and counting from it. I’m definitely keeping these for when she gets older. I have a feeling the baby bath time and the restaurant will be popular in our home soon enough. Thanks for sharing :)
I love creating new play spaces! I have such fun setting them up with the girls and seeing how they interact with them. Grocery shopping is a favourite here too! So glad you enjoyed this.