7 Things You Need to Make Your Pretend School Dramatic Play
Pre-K Let's Play has created a pretend school dramatic play theme. Whether it's "real" school or "pretend" school. Two things are for certain. Preschool kids love school and teachers like you.
Your preschool students see you every weekday. They learn from you and love being around you. As a matter of fact, I bet there are moments where you may catch them pretending to be a teacher like you. Funny right? So a great way to support this is to apply this to your dramatic play area.
Turning dramatic play into a pretend school gives students many ways to learn. This also makes learning feel fun for them. In this blog post, I am going to show you pics of how I made my school play area. You will see the 7 things you need to make your own pretend school too.
If you like what you see, then feel free to visit the Pre-K Let's Play dramatic play collection and download this theme.
Are you ready?
1. Pretend School Materials and Play Props in Dramatic play
Materials are important when it comes to making your area look like a real classroom. The more materials and play props you provide as a teacher, the better the quality of play. That is because students become interested when school-related items are in your dramatic play center. They get more engaged. It also allows them to express their imagination. Once your students feel this way, then they are staying in that area. Without a doubt! Instead of roaming around the classroom, they are keeping busy. For sure!
For this school theme, focus on giving them different types of handling props. Handling props are things that your students can pick up and use. For example, I used materials such as chalk, dry erase boards, markers, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.
But if you don’t have many materials, then don’t worry. Nonspecific props (i.e. cardboard box) make excellent play props too. That is because they encourage your students to think of a better use for it to use it in the play area. So don’t be afraid to add props like that as well.
Using play props also causes students to share. Think about it from a social view. Sharing items gives your students the chance to practice communication skills. They are also building up their language skills. This can lead to better friendships.
Now let's take a look at it from a physical view. Play props can be key to helping your students build solid fine motor skills. Using dry-erase markers to write on easels. Writing with pencils to do their “homework”. Zipping backpacks. Opening lunchboxes. These examples are a few of the many chances students have to practice with these materials. And it all takes place in your pretend school dramatic play.
2. Pretend School Dramatic Play Center Decor
Keep this in mind. Your dramatic play area should have a few goals. One is to look safe. Welcoming. Not to mention fun and friendly from the viewpoint of your students. Another goal is to make it look like a school too. To make that possible, everything should be at the eye level of your students. This includes picture cards, school signs, and even furniture. Doing this will catch your students' attention. This would also make them excited about entering your area.
It is also best to make use of the furniture that you plan to use. For instance, the pic below shows how I covered the back of a shelf with black paper to look like a chalkboard.
Having an open space works well for students too. It allows you to switch props, such as chairs, into your area. It also allows them to choose to have circle time or a seated classroom setting.
I also recommend having a bulletin board display inside your dramatic play area. It’s eye-catching and it highlights the theme of your dramatic play area.
For tips and inspiration, my classroom decor can be an example of how to set up your dramatic play area. If you would like your dramatic play to look like a pretend school for your students, then check out the Pre-K Let's Play store.
3. Dramatic Play Signs about Pretend School
Placing signs throughout your dramatic play will bring the school vibe that you want. That is because signs go well together with your students' imagination. By doing this, they can get into character. It also lets them refer to these signs while in character.
What I love about placing signs is that they can help your students recall past experiences. In my pretend play area, I included images and signs of activities we do in school. Many students were able to relate to those images. They used them for pretend play as teachers. Some even tried to reenact the images. I’m sure your students would love to do the same.
Signs also help your students understand the value of print. Not to mention that signs help develop their literacy and math skills. For this school theme, I provide signs of numbers, letters, colors, weather, and so much more. A lot of printable signs to choose from. Lots! Your students will feel comfortable noticing and calling out their numbers and letters. Especially as they pretend to be teachers.
4. Pretend School Dramatic Play Label Printables
Labels also make your dramatic play feel like school. They are meaningful print. Great for your students to see throughout your area. They cause students to name objects around them. Labels even cause students to use school-related words during pretend play.
Labels also help your students see the connection between image and print. In my TPT download, I offer “image with text” labels as well as “image without text” labels. Feel free to give your students the chance to write their own labels (under the image). This can give them the confidence to write.
That's how labels can help develop writing skills. It also helps them understand why print is important. Especially their own print. Your students will be proud to see their own writing placed in their school pretend play area.
The use of labels is also a great tool for practicing cleaning skills. Labels can be a guide to show students where certain objects belong.
Labels can promote responsibility. It also makes your students feel “in charge” of helping. As teachers, we know kids love to help. So encourage your students to use labels as a reference for cleaning. This would inspire them to help keep their pretend school clean and organized.
5. Role play in Pretend School Dramatic Play
Role play necklace cards are another prop that makes your dramatic play feel like school. It helps get students ready to play the roles of teachers and students. Each necklace pushes your students to use their creativity. As a result, it causes them to think and visualize the personalities, emotions, and perspectives of students and teachers. Put themselves in the shoes of students and teachers.
Playing the role of a teacher helps them act out what they believe leadership skills look like. Playing this role also shows self-esteem. It lets them practice being whoever they want to be.
Role playing also helps your students practice communication and sharing skills. For a student to play the teacher role, they would need another friend to agree to play the student role. They need each other. They would have to talk and agree on the roles and rules of this game to play. That's why growing these skills at an early age builds great long term social skills.
Role playing gives your students the chance to better their language skills too. This acting can introduce them to new vocabulary for them to use. This gives them the chance to practice using those new words and phrases in their proper context.
6. Pretend School Print Outs for Dramatic Play
These school-themed printables gives your pretend school area an added touch. They are optional but should always be available for your students. These printouts are here to support your students' imagination. Put these printouts on some clipboards and watch your students act. As they pretend to be teachers, they can use the attendance worksheet to write down names. They can call out their friends who are playing the role of the student with them.
The ones playing the role of student can practice their homework worksheet. They can do this by writing their name, numbers, letters, etc, these worksheets are easy, fun, and encourage pretend play.
These printables are also developmentally appropriate for your students' learning. That's right! They help your students practice their fine motor skills. They can be used to practice writing their name as well as their friends, letters, etc... What a fun way to support writing! The best part about these printouts is that… it doesn't feel like learning! But don’t tell your students! Shhhh!
7. Download this Pretend School Dramatic Play Theme
You now have all the ideas that you need to transform your dramatic play area into a school. Making these printables by yourself can take up too much of your time though. So save some time and effort by downloading the Pretend School Dramatic Play Theme from Pre-K Let's Play store. This download is awesome and will have your students excited to learn through play! It has 134 pages of printables, labels, signs, instructional pages, real classroom photos/examples of dramatic play for teachers to refer to, and so much more. The process is easy. It's simple. All you do is download, print, and prep. Grab the suggested props, set up your pretend play area, and let the fun begin!
Bonus Tip: Books
What’s a school without books? Books are very important tools for everyone’s education. This is especially true for your students. Placing books throughout your dramatic play area is great for inspiring your students. It's good for their imagination. Also useful for when they role-play as a teacher or student.
Books help your kids understand its value as a resource for information about any topic at an early age. In this case, the topic is school. It would be best to fill your pretend area with books related to school. This encourages reading. It also helps your students learn more about school. As well as relate and share their experience of going to school.
So there we have it! These are the 8 tips you need to make your pretend school dramatic play area look like a real school. Enjoy!