It’s winter which means it’s the perfect time to change pretend into an ICE RINK! I change out my dramatic play center to match our learning theme. You can see my year plan HERE.
So why is pretend play important?
Why is pretend play is an important center in a preschool or kindergarten classroom you ask or your principal may ask? What a loaded question but here is my short answer. Students develop self-regulation during pretend play. Students have to share, take turns, wait, and express their feelings and ideas using appropriate language, gestures, and actions.
These HARD skills for many 3, 4, and 5-year-olds to do. The pretend play or dramatic play center is a great place for students to practice and build these social skills. The amount of language that occurs during pretend play is HUGE! Students listen to others and engage in conversations with others (receptive language) during their play. Students are also asking and answering questions from peers, acquiring new vocabulary related to the theme, and communicating conversationally with peers (expressive language) during play. And that is just the oral language and social skills they are building! You can add ENDLESS math and literacy experiences into their play too! I’ll tell you more about that later.
The Ice Rink
This is our ice rink! We have our ice rink, shoe locker, skate rental, snack shop, and snack table. You can see I like to fill the with tons of print (signs and labels). Get everything you need (well almost)… all the printables, signs, labels, prop lists, teacher idea pages, parent letter, and more in my Ice Skating Rink Dramatic Play set from my TPT store HERE.
Setting it Up!
Think about how you want to organize the center and label everything you can! The more labels you have the easier it will be for students to keep the center clean! The picture above if of the Ice Skating Rink the LAST week of the theme. Each week I add new props to keep students excited and engaged in play.
Laminate (if you can) and tape a white butcher paper to the floor to create the ice. Check out these ice rink attendants cleaning the ice with shovels!
Learning through Play
Attendants can clean the ice, clean the skating (don’t worry that spray bottle is empty), write receipts (writing numbers is a great math experience), and give the ice skater their skates. The attendant has to measure the ice skate to see if it fits. Is it too big, too small, or just right? They also have to match the numbers when putting the skates away. What fun way to add math experiences into their play.
Customers have to buy the skates. I don’t have prices so students have to make up a price for the skates each time. Both roles are counting the money, another fun math experience! Then the customers try on their skates and go skating! The best way I have found to support their play is to pretend right there with them! Be the ice skater or the attend yourself! You can coach them and support their play at their level!
I just had to show you the shoe locker they made. Students taped boxes together, painted them, and added a sign! There are blank signs in the pack so students can write the words for the signs.
Students’ made the drink machine, popcorn machine, popcorn, cookies, and pretzels. Don’t you LOVE the invented spelling on all the signs! I try to add tweezers anywhere I can to develop fine motor. Students use the tweezers to put the ice (cotton balls) in the cups.
Don’t have pretend pop corn? No worries…have students make it! Students cut on the lines to make paper squares and crumbled them to make the popcorn.
Students wanted pretzels at the snack shop and I didn’t have any. The students decided that they could make pretzels using pipe cleaners. Students are using higher level thinking when they use objects to represent other objects and imaginary props in their play. Are you loving all the fine motor students are doing when make all the props?
Here are the ice skaters taking a break and having a snack! The made the cookies out of model magic when we had a bakery in the pretend center the month before. I keep the props they make so we can use them for other dramatic play themes.
When the attendant takes the order they read the order form, ask the customer what they want, and write it down! MORE math and literacy embedding in their play!
We used pool noodles cut in half for hockey sticks, a small foam ball for a puck, and laundry baskets for goals! The boys (and girls) absolutely LOVED this! It doesn’t look hard but skating on paper skates and playing hockey at the same time is hard work. Do you see how I infused some gross motor work there? They really needed it too because were not going outside much due to the cold weather.
After the game the hockey players could warm up with hot cocoa (an empty container) and marshmallows (cotton balls). Here is a look inside the refrigerator.
I hope this answered some of your questions about how I do pretend play in my classroom!
Go grab Ice Skating Rink and check out all my other dramatic play themes in my TPT store (link here). Just print, prep, and teach! I did all the creating for you so you don’t miss out on your weekends anymore!
Take the winter theme all over your classroom! Check out these winter posts!