Arrrrg! Avast ye land lovers! Were ye aware that September 19th is ye ol’ talk like a pirate day? Arrr!
There is nothing more exciting for a child than dressing up and getting to pretend to be someone that they’re not. This is typically referred to as imaginative play or dramatic play. Dramatic Play has existed since I can remember, in fact I can remember playing like this when I was young, except now we have begun to put a focus on it, especially at home and in the kindergarten classrooms.
Dramatic Play is when you see children engaging in play where they assign and accept various roles and then act them out. Playing house, pretending to own an ice cream store and serving “ice cream” (typically in the form of things they find lying around) are just a couple of examples that I see the most out on the playground during recess. Children engage their imaginations and create an entirely new reality for themselves. As children engage in this type of play, some of the skills they are working to develop are:
- Role playing as they mimic the individual who they are pretending to be.
- Incorporating materials and props to extend their play (e.g. using a broom handle as a horse).
- Working on developing their stamina (attention span) as they build more complex “realities”.
- Developing social skills as they incorporate friends and family members into their play.
- Building communication skills as they listen and respond appropriately to make their “reality” function
Providing opportunities for dramatic play within your home does not necessarily require a lot of materials. Some things that you could, but don’t need to, provide your child when creating an area designed for encouraging dramatic play are: play clothes or costumes, hats, tools, vehicles, shoes, themed toys such as plastic food or flowers from the garden, pens and paper for creating additional signs or price tags, a chalkboard or whiteboard, large boxes that can be transformed into anything and other items that you have in your toy room.
This weekend, encourage your child to become a pirate and see what different adventures their imaginations will take them on. Encourage them to hide some treasure and draw a map that will show where they hid it. Where can they create a pirate ship? Have them look around and see what they can find. Why not have them make themselves some hats, eye patches, and other props to use during their play. And most important of all – JOIN IN WITH THEM! There is nothing more exciting than having an adult join in with you as you are playing.