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The Importance of Dramatic Play

Nature Walk Choo-Choo!

Hello Dear Community,

Today I will focus on the area of dramatic play which is a central part of the preschool classroom and pivotal in helping to create a healthy development in the young child. In the dramatic play area, children are allowed to break through the restrictions of reality and pretend to be someone or something different than themselves, and they can make up situations and actions that go along with the role they choose. When young children engage in dramatic play, they deepen their understanding of the world and they develop skills that they will use throughout their lives. 

From a social-emotional perspective, children gain a wealth of skills when they spend time in the dramatic play area. Interestingly, early childhood development researchers have shown that children who engage in dramatic play tend to demonstrate more empathy towards others because they have tried out being someone else for awhile. From this kind of play, they develop the skills to cooperate with their peers, control their impulses and are often less aggressive than children who have no access to and/or do not engage in dramatic play.

From a cognitive perspective, when children pretend, they create pictures in their minds about past experiences, made-up people, and all the many the situations they imagine. This is a form of abstract thinking, which we are often encouraging children to move towards. When children are playing pretend with each other, they are often sharing knowledge and learning from one another, which, as I described in a previous newsletter, is often one of the most effective paths towards learning. From a perspective of language development, when engaged in dramatic play, children are using language to explain what they are doing, and to ask and answer questions about their play. This process enhances their vocabulary and moves them forward in their comprehension of words and phrases.

Dramatic play takes many forms, as you probably already notice in your observation of your child’s play. Often dressing up is the major component, but this is not necessary. So often in our society we rush children into moving away from pretend play into the world of realism, as we forget  just how important this pretend world is for young children. As you can see at Peacock, our preschool classrooms (and toddler as well) are infused with a wealth of dramatic/pretend play, as we all respect that valuable learning stems from this mode of interaction with the world.

So, what has happened in our little world here at Peacock this past week?

In the Infant the little ones are all crawling around everything these days, over and under and around and up and down and every direction their curiosity sends them. They are laughing so much these days, enjoying each other, life itself, their loving caregivers, and just being babies. They are very intent on learning how to climb and explore everything that their crawling selves want and need, and when they are excited about something, their entire bodies show us and delight us all.

In the Toddler room, the big red buggy has been the exciting means to get to many different and interesting sights this week. They are familiar now with hopping in, getting strapped in, and away they go on new and interesting adventures. A trip to Winslow Green was a highlight, where they got to run and roll and scamper in the grass as the sun warmed them and as they laughed with delight. Before this, they were mesmerized by a rooster in a neighboring garden. The Waterfront was another enjoyable destination with boats aplenty to keep them interested. The tide was very low, and all kinds of sea life came out for them to enjoy. Inside the classroom, art projects have been coming alive every day. Gabriel’s grandmother, herself a former teacher, came one day and led a wonderful project with the children that involved trees and moons and dirt and of course the children loved this!

In all the classrooms, the children were happily entertained by the junior Olympic jump rope champ and her saxophonist friend. Every child who wanted got a jump rope lesson and was able to try the sax! What a great afternoon that was, and the children were completely engaged.

In our Green  classroom, what a great week this has been with the new and exciting room changes. Our new learning centers in this room are divided into an art area, a dramatic play area, the library/reading area, the building/block area,  the large art/ mealtime area, and the circle time area. In the latter area, circle times have been filled with new and wonderful ideas. The teachers have introduced a new calendar, and every day they talk about the day of the week and the month and the year, while they sing a song about it. Every day also they pick the shape of the day that is matched with a color of their choosing. In circle time, Heather is teaching the children sign language that she accompanies with various stories and lessons of the day. They are learning about adding and subtracting without even knowing it in a  counting song they are learning about fish. Also this week and for the entire month, they are learning about the body and the body parts as well as the bones we sometimes take for granted that help us do so many things. Also new in the green room this week is the introduction of a three part process the children are learning after they eat, where they get to scrape their plates, wash and rinse their dishes. They are enjoying immensely this new activity, and they like the responsibility it implies. Outside, the Green Room walked to Strawberry Park, where they enjoyed a negative low tide and got to look at crabs and other inviting sea life, as they walked back to school, covered with the aroma of algae.

The Green and Blue group this week today had a stupendous tour and Bainbridge’s Town and Country grocery store. Steve gave us the backstage tour of the whole store, inviting us into the cold storage areas, and all the back rooms and offices. Karen, the seafood specialist, gave us an amazing hands-on presentation of salmon, a crab, and a lobster.

 

And then in the Blue room, the new theme of the month has been launched with great enthusiasm and creativity.  Exercise, fitness, and anatomy highlight all areas of the classroom, and the dramatic play area has come alive with our new Peacock Medical Clinic  with a waiting room, elaborate pictures of the human body and soon to be examining areas for the “patients.” In circle time this week, the children have been learning about joints, bones, and muscles. They have been examining all different kinds of collected specimens in the microscope, and they have been talking about all different kinds of doctors and what their jobs are. Unrelated to this theme, the children have now a very special helper chart that they are very proud of. Each child every week now has an important job to do in the classroom, and the chart on the door they go to and look at all the time to remind them of each  person’s responibility in helping the classroom. An interesting discussion Shari has been having with the children is that of honesty. She talks at length with them about what is honesty, really, and why is it important in our lives…

 

Something for us all to ponder.

with kindest and warmest regards,

Heidi

 

 

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