Abstract: Young children are curious little individuals who learn by imagining and doing and one of the tools that helps satisfy this curiosity is pretending, exploring, discovering and learning by play. There are different types of play that children are a part of in a preschool and role play is one amongst it.
Role play area is an important part of the preschool classrooms as this area helps nurture a child’s imagination; improves their social skills, creativity and develops their intellectual abilities. This area is an excellent tool that teachers can use to their benefit to help children learn many valuable lessons as well as giving them an opportunity to understand how the real world works by letting them act out the following:
• Real life experiences such as travelling in a bus or visiting a shop or visiting a garden
• Every day scenarios at home such as cooking in the kitchen or dressing up dolls
• Imaginary situations such as visiting the underwater creatures, visiting the moon
Apart from giving children the opportunity to act our scenarios the role play area can also be used to teach or reinforce different concepts across literacy and numeracy such as vowels and consonants, blends, addition, subtraction etc. We will attempt to showcase some examples during this workshop on how a role play area can be used effectively in a class room.
Keywords: Curriculum; Dramatic/Pretend play; Learning center; Preschool; Role play;
Young children like to engage in fantasy play at any place and any time when left to their own means. This fantasy play is also known as pretend play or dramatic play or role play. They can pretend to be in another place or to be another person or an animal or bird or pretend to do anything else they want. Usually they pretend to take on roles of significant adults in their lives such as parents, teachers, doctors, policemen etc. Normally children use pretend play as a method to relate to the world around them and make some sense out of it.
Role play stimulates children to not only pretend as others they know but also to develop social and emotional skills like taking turns, playing cooperatively and express appropriate emotions. This center also enhances physical development of a child in terms of eye-hand coordination while dressing up. Role play also plays an important role in improving language and listening skills as many activities are in a group setting. The center also promotes cognitive learning, creative thinking and problem solving in children through cause and effect when they pretend play as a shopkeeper or a ticket seller etc.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Setting up a role play center
1. A large area of the classroom so that children can move around without getting in each other’s way
2. Away from traffic and in a corner of the classroom
3. Area can be demarcated by classroom shelves, walls and furniture
4. Closer to other noisy activity centers such as block center or sand and water center so that materials can be shared between block center and role play center
1. Child familiar furniture (kitchen set up, bedroom set up etc.)
2. Versatile furniture that can be used to create settings according to themes (puppet set up, fruit stall, ocean, garden etc.)
3. A separate shelf for storing role play materials
1. Accessories (hats, shoes, head bands, jewelry etc.)
3. Child size home set up
4. Props (animals, birds, transport, people, fruits, vegetables)
5. Any other materials relevant to the activity
DIFFERENT WAYS OF INTEGRATING ROLE PLAY IN LEARNING
The role play center is central to a Childs’ healthy development and learning during the early years which is why it is very important that the role play center is fully integrated with the classroom themes/units of inquiry. We have successfully integrated the role play center into our curriculum and here are some examples.
1) Being Literate (Literacy):
Activity: Ask children to list out words starting with letter ‘a’ and pretend as any of those. Example: ant, astronaut, alligator, artist, acrobat
Learning objective: Child recollects words starting with the letter ‘a’, expanding child’s vocabulary as well as oral language when they describe their actions and experience to their teacher and peers.
2) Being Numerate:
Activity (Refer Figure 4): Pretend play as a buyer visiting a shop keeper selling different brands of chocolates. The buyer will have to only choose letter ‘a’ brand chocolates and buy them by paying the exact amount quoted by the shopkeeper. Learning objective: Counting, associating quantity with number, using money, problem solving and letter and number recognition.
Other than the objective mentioned above, role play area can also be used to teach, addition, subtraction, matching, and planning.
3) Being Knowledgeable:
Activity: (Refer Figure 1 and Figure 2) Find, explore as well as pretend to be a bug in your garden
Learning objective: Children are able to explore and identify bugs and revisit the learnt concept about insects. This provides children with an opportunity to expand their knowledge about bugs. Example: counting number of legs, body parts etc. Role play center helps integrate concepts in the learning process of knowledge and understanding of the world (Science and social science concepts). Examples – grocery store, race track, or even their own school.
As far as the topic of integrating the role play center in the everyday curriculum is concerned the only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.
1) A Publication of the Environments Professional Group. 2002. Pretend play (http://www.environments.com/media/blfa_files/EIST192.pdf), A staff training aid, Environments, Inc.
2) Diane Trister Dodge, Laura J. Colker and Cate Heroman. 2010. The Creative Curriculum for Preschool. 5th. Ed. Teaching Strategies, LLC, Washington, DC.