Ice Skating Rink in the Dramatic Play Center
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The winter is the perfect time to change your dramatic play center into an ICE RINK! An ice rink dramatic play area is so much fun, and there are so many learning opportunities you can sneak into dramatic play, especially at an ice rink. Learning through play is powerful; I’m here to show you how to help your students play with purpose! Keep reading for more information on how to have an ice rink dramatic play area.
I change out my dramatic play center to match our learning theme either once a month or every two weeks. You can see my yearly plan HERE. You can grab all the Ice Rink Dramatic Play printables in my TpT store HERE.
So why is pretend play important?
Why is pretend play an important center in a preschool or kindergarten classroom? 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 are 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! More details on that to come.
The Ice Rink Dramatic Play Area
This is our ice rink dramatic play area! We have an ice rink, shoe locker, skate rental, snack shop, and snack table. You can see in the photo that I like to fill the Ice Rink with tons of print (signs, menus, order forms, and labels). Get almost everything you need: all the ice rink dramatic play 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.
The Ice and Ice Skating at the Ice Rink Dramatic Play Area
Everyone always wants to know HOW I made the ice! I made this “ice” by laminating two pieces of butcher paper and then taping it down the middle and to the floor. You can also use a white shower curtain, or some rugs have a white back, which is perfect. Flip over your classroom rugs and see if the back is white to create an ice rink.
Pretend ice skating is a great way to strengthen their legs, core, and balance skills. Incorporating gross motor elements into their play gets students moving and playing, which is what we all want! They have to strengthen their big muscles before their small muscles can become strong.
Setting the ice rink dramatic play 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 shelves do not have to be packed full, and everything should not be out the first day you change the center into an ice rink. It is OK to have empty shelves at first. The picture above is of the Ice Rink Dramatic Play area the LAST week of the theme. Each week, I add new props to keep students excited and engaged in play. Here are the two shelves up close (again, the last week of the theme):
Learning through Play at the Ice Rink Dramatic Play Area
Customers have to buy their ice skates from a vendor. Both roles are counting the money; more math snuck into the fun! 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 attendant yourself! You can coach and support their pretend play just like you do their literacy or math play!
Attendants can clean the ice, clean the skating (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 a fun way to add math experiences (measurement, math vocabulary, and number identification) into their play.
As students skate around, they need a place for their shoes. Create a shoe locker! By having students take their shoes off and then back on during play, they are also practicing self-help skills.
If you live where it is cold, putting on gloves and mittens is no fun before recess. Put gloves and mittens in pretend for the ice skaters to wear during play. Now, they can practice putting on all the winter gear during play, which will make getting ready for recess a little bit quicker.
Ice Rink Dramatic Play Snack Shop!
This is our snack shop! When the attendant takes the order, he/she reads the order form, asks the customer what they want, and writes it down! MORE math and literacy embedding in their play!
Add a number line next to the cash register so students have a model for writing numbers. Use register tape from the Dollar Tree for students to use as receipt paper to get them to write numbers during play.
Look at all the DIY props like the drink machine, popcorn machine, popcorn, ice, and pretzels! Make your own using empty food containers, and you will save so much money! I try to add tweezers anywhere I can, too, to help students develop fine motor. Students use the tweezers to put the ice (cotton balls) in the cups. Did you notice there are two different-sized cups? Now, students have to ask and compare sizes during play!
Don’t have pretend popcorn? No worries…have students make it! Students cut on the lines to make paper squares and crumbled them to make the popcorn. Use a small box to make a popcorn machine by taping the bottom flap up and cutting the other flaps off. We use this popcorn machine for tons of dramatic play themes, so make sure you keep it!
Here are the ice skaters taking a break and having a snack! Use plastic or wood cookies or make cookies out of model magic or air-dry clay. I keep the props they make so we can use them for other dramatic play themes. We made the pretzels with pipe cleaners! You don’t need fancy food props from a store. DIY props work, too, and truly get your students involved!
Hockey and Cleaning the Ice!
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 more gross motor work into their play? They really needed it too because we’re not going outside much due to the cold weather.
Check out these ice rink attendants cleaning the ice with shovels! As the attendants clean the ice, the ice skaters have to wait!
Go grab Ice Rink Dramatic Play Unit 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!
Want to see the ice rink dramatic play area in action? Check it out.
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hey, i’m jackie!
I’m Jackie, your go-to girl for early childhood inspiration and research-based curriculum.