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Why we Change out our Drama Center

I’m one of those centers changing teachers. I’m a true believer that my preschool classroom is my co-teacher. I believe through play children can learn more (and at a deeper-level) than they do in direct instruction. However, I don’t believe that just by setting up some centers in your classroom and never changing them again that you will not get those same learning benefits. Just like our lessons change, so should our centers. How can we expect children to explore and discover new ideas and concepts if our co-teacher (the classroom) stays the same and no new concepts are ever introduced?

Take the Drama Center for example… let’s say it’s set up as a kitchen or home area. This is fantastic for the beginning of the year because it’s familiar and children can easily adapt those family roles. But, now it’s December. It’s been almost 4 months of having the home/kitchen area in your drama center. And if you take a real look at what is going on inside the center, I bet you’ll see that the play has changed. You may even be getting frustrated because the play has become rowdy or it feels out of control to you. That’s because the children are over it and they are making their own way to play. Now this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes their creativity leads to next-level pretend play! But, often times it just gets disruptive because children are bored.

And this is where (in my opinion) play-based learning has gotten a bad rap. Many that oppose the idea see play as a free for all. A way that lets the children do whatever they want. But, that’s just the thing…. disruption, rough play, destroying things and all out craziness isn’t play-based learning. When we let our children go from bored to creating their own rambunctious fun – we aren’t protecting that play environment. So in turn, the goal of play-based learning isn’t getting met.

How can we combat that? Keep it engaging.

How? Change out centers – especially your drama center. This is the ONE center I see the most classroom disruption come from.

Now, if you are thinking- that sounds like a lot of work… well, it is. Not gonna lie. But, I see it as part of my job and (selfishly) it keeps me from getting frustrated when things get out of hand- because things don’t get (as) out of hand because children are engaged.

But, it’s about more than engagement (even though that is the biggest piece for me).

When I change out my drama center it’s also a benefit to my children’ development. How?

  • Language Development: Children can expand their vocabulary when I bring different themes. They take on different roles and scenerios and learn to communicate and use language in context of the theme.
  • Social and Emotional Skills: Dramatic play encourages children to take on different roles, understand perspectives, and interact with peers in a cooperative and imaginative setting. This fosters empathy, cooperation, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Creativity and Imagination: Changing the dramatic play center can stimulate children’s imagination and creativity. It encourages them to think critically, problem-solve, and make connections between different scenarios and roles they encounter.
  • Self- Regulation: Through dramatic play, children learn to regulate their emotions, take turns, and negotiate roles and scenarios, promoting self-control and emotional understanding.
  • Understanding the World: Dramatic play themes can introduce children to various real-world settings, roles, and activities, helping them make connections between their experiences and the world around them.
  • Literacy and Numeracy Skills:  Many dramatic play themes involve opportunities for children to engage with written materials, use numbers, and explore concepts related to literacy and numeracy in a meaningful context.

Like I said – Interest and Engagement in the center is my central WHY, but those benefits don’t hurt the cause!

Do you change out your dramatic play center? If not, I have some resources available to help you get started!

I create a tub for each one of my dramatic play themes, that way I can reuse them year after year! But, you don’t need to start by creating a whole bunch. Just create one at a time and save all the materials inside a box or tub, label it and you’ll have the start to a collection in no time!

Learn more about the Pretend Play Props resource available to you and check out all the themes!

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