Farm in the dramatic play or pretend play center is a TON of fun for students! As you know, I LOVE the pretend center, and I also enjoy having students take a role in setting it up. The kids (and I) are having a blast and learning a ton. If you want to do it in your classroom, head over to my TPT store and check out Farm Dramatic Play.
Remember, every classroom and year is different. Some years the kids do a lot and other times I do more of it. It just depends.
The dramatic play center provides so many learning opportunities across ALL learning domains. To help parents understand that kids are not just “playing”, I sent home a parent letter introducing the new farm theme and highlighting specific skills students will be developing during their play.
To begin the new farm theme, I put out tons of non-fiction books about life on the farm. We create an Idea Chart/Web. I task the students to “research” using the books (aka look at the photos). We discuss what farm animals, supplies, places, people, and food is on a farm. I use post-it notes so they will stick to the chart. It also shows me students’ prior knowledge and any misconceptions they may have. By spring, students know exactly what to do to create the web! They got busy right away. I even had a few students who wanted to keep working on the web during our Friday dance party! You know they are excited about a new theme when they pass up a dance party! On the Friday we before a new theme, I add the idea web to my lesson plans. It gets the students excited for the next theme. Students can help me take down the last dramatic play center so when we come on Monday it is ready for us to start creating!
*When I taught half-day preschool, often times we did not have time to make idea webs.*
Here is what I did to create the center, and what it looked like before it was ready for play. You can see students painted the apple tree, plants, and corn stalks. Look at finished murals! I LOVE that students made them and not me. I am not an artist. and I know it! Yes, it would have been faster if I did it (and cleaner), but that’s not the point of this activity. Most importantly, the students took charge, painted the murals, and now their art is in the center! They know that I value their work; isn’t it amazing?! Don’t be afraid for it not to look perfect. Two of my three-year-olds painted the orchard tree, and it turned out awesome!
On Monday and Tuesday during center time, students painted murals and made other parts of the farm instead of engaging in pretend play. I showed students the signs/pictures of what they were going to paint, and together we noticed the characteristics of each plant BEFORE they painted. Students only painted the stems and the leaves on the plants.
In the art center and for a table time activity on Tuesday morning, students made the fruits and veggies for our farm! It was a fun way to get some cutting practice in.
I stapled the Velcro to the wall (plants) and stuck the other side of the Velcro to the fruits and veggies. Now students can harvest the fruits and veggies during play!
Here is what students did to create the center. They had it ready to play by the middle of the week. It was so rewarding to see it take shape!
Hay! A farm has a lot of hay. I have some friends who needed more practice cutting long lines so this was the perfect activity for them. I copied the “hay” (lined paper) on yellow paper and students cut on the long lines to make the hay. They glued it to shoeboxes (I covered in yellow paper) to make the hay bales, and then glued it to the bottom of the chicken house. To create the bottom, students used a piece of yellow poster board and glued straw to it. Lastly, it is covered with thick plastic tape (I kept it and still reuse it every year for various things in the pretend center).
Once your students get used to making most of what you need in the center, they will start coming up with what they need for play, how to make it, and what supplies they will need to complete the project. This was the first theme this year,; I just gave them the materials, minimal instructions and let them do it. It was the neatest experience! I had a student already tell me he wanted to make a pond, ducks, and fish next!
Farm Animals! I did not have big farm animals for the farm so I had the kids make them! I made the patterns, but I had the students cut them out and decorate them. Do you see the cow with stripes like a zebra and eyelashes? Super cute and so unique!
Look at their cute chickens and chicks in the chicken coop! The nests are just paper bags folded down. The eggs we made with Model Magic that I pulled out from the bakery theme we did earlier. The farmer can collect the eggs during play!
The pig pen! A kiddo told me he needed brown paper to make the mud. He crumbled it up into balls and put it in the plastic tub. If you are wondering how the animals are standing, I will share my trick with you. I taped blocks to the back of each animal.
Writing! I have my pre-k kids sound out the words for the signs. It was an arrival activity in the morning. They also sounded out the words for the shelf labels. Sometimes I can find time to have the kids make signs, and some years we just don’t have the time.
My three- and four-year-old friends made dirt for their arrival activity the same morning. They cut strips of brown butcher paper and crumbled it up. My class opens at 7 am and kids trickle in. I always have an arrival activity on the table that they have to complete before they go play in centers. Then use the “dirt” to cover their “seeds” (rocks) when they are planting seeds in the vegetable garden.
They can also plow the field with the tractor and water the seeds. We made the tractor by painting a box and cutting a hole in the top of it. The hose is just a piece of a real hose from my house that was broken. Do you see the carrots and potatoes they hid in the dirt? Later, they pretended to pull them out of the ground! This photo was from my full-day classroom.
To add a writing component, farmers can write and draw “to-do” lists before they go out in the field.
To support students’ dramatic play, I created a role chart. It has picture icons for the things the farmer can do. This is VERY helpful to some of my kids who don’t know what to do in the dramatic play center. The picture icons are stuck with Velcro so students can remove them if they want to.
For kids who like or need a visual schedule, I made a visual schedule of a farmer’s day.
During small group Wednesday and to support their dramatic play, we created a chart during circle time of all the things a farmer does on a farm. Each student wrote the first letter of the idea they shared.
Goodness! That was a LONG post for sure. Can you tell how much I love and believe in the power of pretend play?
If you would like to do a FARM theme in your dramatic play or pretend play center, click HERE to purchase Farm Dramatic Play from my TPT store. It is 109 pages of tips, tricks, detailed directions, more real classroom photographs, and printables for you to create the perfect farm in your classroom.
Take the FARM theme all over your classroom! Go check out my favorite Farm Math, STEM, and Literacy Centers and Farm Themed Art and Sensory Activities! All of these are tried and true activities I love to do in my own classroom!
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