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Posts Tagged ‘Dramatic play’

Five Ways to Foster Creativity

The ability to be creative and think outside the box is important for problem solving and innovation, which are highly valued abilities. Here are five ways to encourage creativity at home.

  1. Read to your child. Before you begin, ask your child to close his eyes and imagine the story as you read it. Afterward, ask your child to describe what he saw while you read.Art
  2. Put on a play. Create a story with your child and then act it out. Encourage her to dress up like the character she is playing by using old clothes, hats and accessories. You could even record her performance and turn her play into a movie.
  3. Establish a play space. Set aside part of the basement, a spare bedroom or a corner of the living room where your child can explore and discover whatever interests him. If it gets a bit messy, try to be lenient with him since this space is meant for free play.
  4. Encourage free play. Free play is exactly what it sounds like – unstructured play time, a time when your child can play however she likes in the dedicated play space you’ve set up for her.
  5. Inspire your child’s inner Picasso. Keep plenty of art supplies such as paper, paints, paintbrushes, markers, crayons and modeling clay available in case your budding artist decides to create a masterpiece.

The Goddard School Play Tips


Art - Painting Girl APretend play is an important component of your child’s cognitive and social development. Your child processes his/her feelings and understanding of the world as he/she plays.

“Young children who learn through play are more capable of making their own decisions, advocating for themselves and using creativity to solve problems as they grow. Play is essential to the development of your child’s brain, triggering trillions of neural connections that form the basis of healthy cognitive function and mastery of your child’s physical world,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, a Yale University child psychiatrist and consultant to The Goddard School.


  • engage in play by responding to sounds, then by following objects and people with their eyes.
  • demonstrate their memory by repeating an action that previously made you laugh.
  • explore hand-held toys or rattles – turning them over, banging them, shaking them and maybe even tasting them.
  • learn to roll over and sit up, creating choices as they discover how to move. They take aim at their own source of interest.
  • learn self-discovery and motion when toys are placed within and outside their reach.
  • want to examine objects as well as talk to them and follow your lead. Say, “clap,” with a smile on your face and your baby claps and smiles, too.

One-Year-Old children…

  • play with water, smell a flower (which is not as easy as you may think) and recognize animals like the ones from their mobiles.
  • join in the conversation with simple words and phrases and respond to “bye, bye” with an unsolicited wave.
  • demonstrate their knowledge – pointing to any­thing you ‘name’ such as ears, even when they cannot see them because they’ve learned to trust their own experiences.
  • play with you and imitate your actions. Watch them reflect your love with a doll providing “hugs and kisses” and ‘helping,’ the way you have guided them.

Two-Year-Old children…

  • demonstrate independence to determine their limits as well as when and how to play.
  • speak on a play phone and answer questions such as “Why?”
  • solve simple puzzles, hold crayons in their hands, hum and sing as they play as well as join activities without prompting.
  • enjoy using their imagination – pouring from one cup to another and manipulating play dough.
  • begin to understand the concepts of sharing and waiting their turn.
  • communicate in short sentences and demonstrate their personal understanding of the world while playing.
  • can multi-task: they can sing and perform the motions to a song or converse while they paint.

Three-Year-Old children…

  • ‘work’ while playing. They explore roles, feelings and ideas in an un­inhibited environment. They practice various emotions to determine how they fit into their personality.
  • have a large vocabulary and under­stand the intonations of language.
  • begin to connect the spoken word to written language and can orally retell a favorite story.
  • are interested in cause and effect; and can identify colors, shapes, sizes and weights.
  • play a role or game for long periods of time until they have exhausted their curiosity.
  • need their space. Let them invite you into their play.

Four-Year-Old children…

  • recognize how objects and people are the same and different simulta­neously; and can appreciate these attributes.
  • begin to recognize concepts. For in­stance, taking a bath develops their understanding of water – floating, sinking, absorbing and dissolving.
  • use their play experiences to develop identifiable knowledge – they can match by relationships and verbalize invisible con­cepts, such as time and calendars.
  • no longer need to see or hold a toy to play; they can recall previous experiences and use their knowledge.
  • can name instruments, move to the beat of music and sing along.
  • have phonemic awareness and view the written word as magical – writing a word is play!

The Symbols of Play

Excerpt from Me, Myself and I

Think about it.  Play helps children understand that things can stand for other things – that keys or shoes can stand for “Daddy,” that her purse or lipstick can stand for “Mommy,” that a leash or collar can stand for “dog.”  It is quite amazing, really, because there is no way we can ever achieve that for our kids.  They simply have to sort it out on their own.

Dramatic PlayHow?  As a child rummages through the bottom of the closet and pulls out a familiar pair of big, old shoes, someone who takes notice in the sequence of the child’s play will say the word “Daddy,” and probably more than once.  The child plays (with pleasure) as she pairs them up, hefts her weight, maybe even struggles to put on those size 12s.  And the “power” word she hears in this whole scenario is “Daddy.”  After the memory and pleasure centers in the brain connect with the word heard for this experience, the experience gets filed (pleasantly) under “Daddy” or “shoes” or “smelly feet” – probably all three.

But more importantly, the experience gets remembered (learned), and soon the play starts to symbolize the child’s experience with any or all of the parts of this scene.  Which experience is hard to predict, be it remembering her father when he is gone, classifying pairs of things that belong together, or the raw joy of exploring.  But the experience now has some kind of symbol connected to it, thanks to play.

Moreover, experience gets symbolized and images fixed through play in a way that the child can create new symbols over time.  He combines and reshapes old ones, or uses them in novel ways.  This capacity to manipulate and change them gives him wonderful new tools for elaborating his own experience and understanding of the world and his place in it.  This remarkable capacity it what we call “imagination.”

Play is Learning

Sensory Table with ToddlersHave you ever caught a glimpse of your child playing and pretending to be you, or someone you know?  Dramatic play and socio-dramatic play are important components of children’s cognitive and social development.

By acting out real or fictional situations through dramatic play (pretend play); children are working through their feelings and their understanding of the world. Dramatic play lets them process their perception of events and/or roles.  For instance, if a child is playing house as the “mommy” – she is expressing her view of what “mommy” is and how she views the role. She is practicing how “mommy” would or could react to different situations. This play doesn’t necessarily represent her reality of the role, but rather her interpretation of “mommy” in this particular situation at this place and this time.

Socio-dramatic play (dramatic play with social interaction) lets children practice social rules. When playing alone there is no etiquette to follow, however when another child or adult is involved each party has to follow certain rules. Children playing “brother and sister” with children who are not their siblings, allows for experimenting with different interactions and testing how others will react.

Your child’s preschool should encourage both dramatic and socio-dramatic play. In fact a play-rich learning environment is essential. Classrooms should include “dress-up” areas to support children’s creativity and imagination. Teachers generally fill these areas with real-life props relevant to curriculum topics.

Interested in an example of how this all works?  Let’s say the curriculum topic is numbers. Your child’s teacher might add telephones, calculators or cash registers to the dramatic play center because these props provide exposure to using numbers in realistic situations. Your child is learning to memorize his telephone numbers and this skill can be applied in the dramatic play center by teachers encouraging children to “call” each other; or when learning about money, your child may play “store” and take turns playing the roles of customer and shopkeeper with her friends.

Play is a child’s work – they are practicing.  This practice is without judgment – they can rehearse roles, feelings and ideas in a completely uninhibited environment.