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Dramatic play is a great way to encourage communication, teach your children about social behaviour and show them how they should respond in unfamiliar situations. It is a means by which children can imitate adults and act out various situations. But, remember even dramatic play, is still play! Don't make it arduous. It's just a way to re-enact situations or practice behaviour and use their imagination! Most of all, its a way to have some FUN!
When children dress up and do dramatic play, they can try out new roles, experiment with behaviour and watch for other people's reaction. It's a way to further understand their world.
How can you encourage this type of play? Here are a few tips.
Be a playmate. Don't just tell them what to do; get down there and play with them! If you become a playmate, an equal, it will seem that you are both on the same level and this may encourage dramatic play. Act out going shopping, going out for coffee, going to a library. Get your child to talk and act like the shopkeeper or librarian. Choose a situation that your child will relate to. Keep it casual, keep it simple and keep it fun.
Don't interfere. If you want to encourage creative, dramatic play try not in interfere too much or lead the game. Try not to suddenly announce all stop for lunch and spoil the flow. Why not have lunch in the underground cave or on the pretend plane? Play along with what they are doing. Welcome their ideas.
Space. Creative play needs space so try to create some space that can be used and not worry too much about it getting messy or untidy! A dining room table can become a cavern, the sofas can be moved round to create an indoor play house. It can all be tidied away afterwards! It helps the children be creative in their play and makes them feel they are a little in control of the game if their ideas of building a blanket rocket are not always met with a no!
Ideas. Use things you see or read about as ideas for imaginative play. Create a fairy cave or a vets on the moon in your living room and try and encourage any ideas your child has.
It's a good idea to have a collection of bits and pieces that you can use again and again for dramatic play. You could use an old cardboard container as a prop box and keep some useful props in there at the ready. Or, just gather the bits and pieces as you need them. Below are some ideas of things to put together to really make a bit of imaginative play into something really special - especially if you permit your child to use real, grown-up items!
Ideas for a prop box:
- At the Beach: Sunglasses, towel, sun cream, shells, play food, picnic rug, sun hats
- The Vets: Stuffed animals, cotton wool balls, doctor's kit, blanket, basket, money, boxes, real carrot for the rabbit
- Post Office: Pens, paper, paper clips etc. Paying-in slips and forms from a real post office/bank. Money, envelopes, junk mail, hole punch, stamper.
- Decorator (a good one for outside!): Buckets and pots of water, apron, different sized paintbrushes, child step to reach high, cap, rags and cloths.
Put a bit of thought into your dramatic play together and you'll find you both really enjoy it!