8 Things You Need to Create Your Own Pretend Play Garden for your Preschool Classroom
Pre-k Let’s Play has created a dramatic play garden center for preschoolers. This Dramatic play theme is a great resource to use in your classroom. Great for helping your students practice using their imagination. It's also great for helping develop their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills.
Kids love the spring season. Fresh air. Birds chirping. Sun coming out more. Kids often think about flowers and playing outdoors when the Spring season comes to mind. So why not bring that environment and imagination into your classroom? You can do this by turning your dramatic play area into a pretend garden. Your students will be so excited to explore the lifestyle of gardening. They will enjoy pretending to be gardeners.
This download offers tons of resources, ideas, and activities for your students to use. Continue reading... as I share with you 8 things you need to transform your dramatic play center into a pretend play garden.
1. Plants and flowers
The first thing you need to create your pretend play garden is plants and flowers. What's a garden without flowers? Right? These props can be real, fake, or both. But either way, they provide a realistic and engaging environment for children to play in. You can use potted plants or flowers. Or even create a garden bed by adding soil or mulch to a designated area in the play center. But if you decide to use real plants, make sure that they are non-toxic and safe for children to handle.
The picture above is a pretend garden bed that I created for my students. I used a brown towel to make it look like dirt. I also bought pretend flowers from a local Dollar Tree store. My students loved it.
Including different types of plants and flowers in your garden is also a great idea. This helps children learn more about flowers, their differences, and their characteristics.
2. Gardening tools
Gardening tools are another crucial element of a pretend play garden. These can include shovels, rakes, watering cans, and gloves. Providing a variety of tools allows children to engage in different gardening tasks. Tasks such as digging, planting, grass cutting, and watering. These tasks and gardening tools help children develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
It's important to always consider the safety of the materials you are using. Make sure that your gardening tools are appropriate for their age and skill level. Always supervise children during playtime to ensure their safety.
In my classroom, I turned a toy baby cradle into a lawn mower. I placed a green carpet in my dramatic play center to represent grass. The children were so excited to "cut the grass". Especially those who have seen their family actually cutting grass. It felt relatable to them and a great way to reenact what they saw through pretend play.
3. Fruits and vegetables
Including fruits and vegetables adds an extra layer of realism and educational value. You can use plastic toy fruits and vegetables. Like the picture below. Encourage children to "plant" and "harvest" the fruits and vegetables. You can even set up a pretend farmers market (or grocery store) to sell their produce. This can help children learn about healthy eating habits and where their food comes from.
4. Garden-themed décor
Always Remember! The plan is to make your dramatic play center look and feel like a garden. That's why having nature-themed decor adds a realistic touch to your play center. You must add this to your dramatic play area.
This can include items like birdhouses, toy bugs, nests, and rocks. Adding small details like these creates a more engaging environment. This is also the best way to make the pretend play garden feel like a real outdoor space for children to play in. This type of decor should also inspire kids to want to feel like gardening.
This decor theme also encourages children to learn about different sides of nature. Once kids see the garden theme decor, they become intrigued. This causes children to ask questions about nature and gardening. How do plants and vegetables grow? How come bugs and worms like to live in the garden? Where do butterflies come from? Why do plants need water? These are a few questions that my students asked me in the past. All because of the garden décor setup. They can't help but ask and learn through play.
You can also encourage children to provide garden themed décor of their own. In my classroom, I asked my students to draw pictures of their favorite fruits, flowers, and vegetables. I placed them throughout the dramatic play center for them to touch and see. I also paired each drawing next to a real image. They were proud to see their work and inspired to play!
5. Garden signs, pictures, and labels
Adding signs, pictures, and labels to the pretend play garden can help children learn about the many things they may encounter in a real garden. You can encourage your students to create signs for different fruits or vegetables.
Signs can also provide structure for children. For example, we use open and closed garden signs. These signs help children know if this pretend play garden is open for play or not at the moment. It also helps them recognize the words open and closed.
It's also recommended to create labels for different sections of the play center. This can help children develop their reading skills and vocabulary. It also provides children accountability to place objects where they belong after use. This is especially helpful during cleanup time.
Providing real-life gardening pictures throughout your dramatic play can also be helpful. This prompts children to ask and learn more about different aspects of gardening. It also helps them identify certain fruits, vegetables, and plants.
Make sure you have printables related to gardening in your dramatic play center. Providing this can be a great way to extend learning beyond the pretend play center. Worksheets can include activities like coloring, drawing, and writing. Printables can encourage children to practice writing numbers and letters. They also encourage role-playing as gardeners.
Here are children acting out how many flowers they plan on planting in their garden. You can find and use this printable shown here in the "Pre-K Let's Play Dramatic Play Garden" resource.
7. Books about gardening and plants
Book, books, books! Kids love books. They are great to have and see in a dramatic play garden center. Try placing books about gardening and plants in your pretend play garden. This can help children learn even more about the natural world. It can also help build their interest in nature and gardening.
You can choose books that are specifically about gardening. Or even books that feature plants and seeds. The more realistic and nonfiction books you have, the better. Absolutely! Make sure you place these garden-themed books all around your dramatic play center.
8. Download this product
Pre-K Let's Play offers a garden theme resource for you to use. This is another great addition to have in your dramatic play garden center. This digital download includes a variety of educational resources. These resources are specifically tailored to a garden theme. Such as printables, props ideas, setup ideas, signs, labels, activity ideas, and so much more. By using this resource, you can save time and effort in creating your own materials. It also ensures that your dramatic play center is educationally sound. As well as developmentally appropriate for your children.
In conclusion, a pretend play garden can be a fun way for preschoolers to learn about gardening. It requires incorporating a variety of elements. These elements can include... flowers and plants, gardening tools, fruits and vegetables, nature-themed decor, garden signs and labels, printable worksheets, and books.
By incorporating these elements, you too can create a well-rounded dramatic play center. An environment that's engaging and educational for preschoolers. An area that supports children using their imagination and learning new skills. An area that encourages social interaction and collaboration.
With a little creativity and planning, you too can create a play center that will excite children. All you need is this dramatic play garden theme for tips and ideas to get started setting up a pretend play garden. Download this dramatic play garden theme to enhance your children's learning experience today.