What is Dramatic Play?
It is a type of play where children assign, accept and act out roles. They are pretending to be someone or something else, whether it be a doctor, a superhero, a princess or a bank teller. Sometimes the characters they take on are real- world roles and other times they are fantastical. Regardless of the role they are pretending to fill, dramatic play allows your child to break down the barriers of reality and this results in natural, imaginative learning through play and observation.
What are the types of Dramatic Play?
There are two types:
Structured play or pre-determined play with a desired outcome. It is when scenarios are already presented for the child to play into, such as a diner or a market. The child then chooses or assigns the role within that scenario and works through the problems that arise within the predetermined set.
Unstructured play or play that allows the child to choose their own scenarios and create their own sets based on what is available to them. Children often transform their living room floors into lava and they must jump from rock to rock (chair to chair) in order to avoid the molten floor.
What are the benefits of dramatic play?
Dramatic play teaches self-regulation. Young children are known to behave impulsively, so dramatic play is a great way for children to learn how to self-regulate their actions and emotions. When a child accepts their role in dramatic play, they view that role as having specific rules and because they chose to partake in that role, they will often stick to those rules. This allows them to coordinate with others as they socialize, as well as, control their impulses to behave outside of the “rules” assigned to that role.
Encourages Language Development. Dramatic play encourages children to utilize expressive language. It motivates them to communicate their wishes to others and speak from the perspective of their assigned role. It is a great way for children who are shy to participate in a group setting.
Teaches Conflict Resolution. Naturally disagreements will arise, dramatic play offers children the opportunity to work through their differences and resolve the dispute with some sort of compromise. It encourages children to consider alternative perspectives as they place themselves in the shoes of others. By acknowledging differences, they are learning important social skills, such as empathy, while improving their ability to resolve conflict in real life scenarios.
Relieves Emotional Tension. Children cope with dramatic events by acting them out. Dramatic play offers them a safe place to act out real life events.
It is Empowering! They assign and accept roles, as well as, act out traumatic experiences in a safe setting. These types of play scenarios allow children to comprehend their emotions and place themselves in a powerful role. For instance, children who went through a surgery will often place themselves in the role of the surgeon or the nurse.
Supports Early Literacy. Functional print, such as menus, labeled food containers and newspapers, in children’s play creates an environment that allows them to interact with print the same way adults do. They are seeing first hand all the ways we use text in our daily lives. This sort of recognition results in children with greater literacy competencies. Dramatic play also builds comprehension by allowing your child to act out familiar stories. Maybe they are a firefighter or a princess from the book you read to them earlier. In the process of understanding different characters and their different personalities, children are gaining a sophisticated understanding of narrative structure.
How does the Children’s Museum at Saratoga encourage dramatic play?
The exhibits at the Children’s Museum at Saratoga are designed to spark creativity, imagination, and encourage children to transform themselves into the role that is best represented by that exhibit. They can be veterinarians at the pet vet, tellers at the bank, chefs at the diner or stage actors in the theater. CMAS utilizes structured dramatic play to encourage developmental learning in each of the Museum’s exhibits.