Dramatic Play in Early Childhood

Dramatic Play Centers in ECE Classrooms

In all early childhood classrooms – daycares, preschools, and kindergartens – dramatic play can have a major role. When children have access to toys and activities that allow for pretend play, they are able to reap the benefits described in earlier postings.


So what does dramatic play actually look like in an early childhood classroom? Most likely, you will see dramatic play as its own interest centers. Most quality early childhood classes will have interest centers throughout the room, each with its own subject, purpose, and supplies. The centers are places where children can explore topics in hands-on and fun ways. Often, dramatic play is integrated into the classroom as one of the interest centers.


As you probably saw in Dr. Horm’s Youtube video, dramatic play centers are often setup around a central theme, such as a home/kitchen or store. The important thing to remember is that the center should have open-ended toys and materials in it, so that children can use their imaginations as much as possible. All of the materials should be appropriate to be used by the children, but still act as a way for children to practice roles and play “pretend”. For instance, fake cash registers and play money are great additions to a dramatic play center setup like a store.


Now you may be thinking of some great ideas of how to stimulate kids to engage in pretend play in an early childhood classroom. Maybe you are thinking of some unique themes or materials that children would have fun playing with in the center. But what’s the next step? Start looking for supplies to populate your dramatic play center!


(Personally, I think sticking to one theme for the center at a time is best so that things don’t get too cluttered and children are able to best focus their attentions. But don’t forget, you can change the center pretty regularly to different themes.)


To start thinking of dramatic play supplies, check out Kaplan’s website. Kaplan is a popular company that specializes in educational products and resources. They have one entire page dedicated to dramatic play toys. And while of course you don’t have to buy from them, their extensive listing of supplies will absolutely get you thinking about the many different kinds of great things to include in a dramatic play center.  


And parents: you can kind many great toys for children to play with at home on this site as well. Remember, children can use their imaginations and play pretend just about anywhere! Home and school are both important environments for children to engage in dramatic play.



 Kaplan Early Learning Company. (2008). Dramatic play activities and supplies. Retrieved October 19, 2008 from http://www.kaplanco.com/activity-dramatic-play.asp


TulsaWorldNews. (2008, August 14). Pretend play – tulsaword.com [Video file]. Retrieved October 13, 2008 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMwqMuRtGDs


All About Dramatic Play in Video Form


In this video, Dr. Diane Horm discusses many important issues about dramatic play (which she also calls pretend play). In addition to providing thorough explanations of what pretend play is and why it is important, she outlines good toys to stimulate pretend play in school and at home, and explains the roles teachers and parents should take on with children involved in dramatic play. There is also a discussion of how dramatic play should be integrated into preschools and how such play experiences have a role in children’s academic success.


Not to mention, there are MANY examples of actual children involved in pretend play throughout the video. The examples will provide you with great concrete pictures of the many ways children engage in dramatic play.



TulsaWorldNews. (2008, August 14). Pretend play – tulsaword.com [Video file]. Retrieved October 13, 2008 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMwqMuRtGDs