Having a toddler in the family can sure take a lot of energy and focus. Dramatic play is a great way to bond as a family with some open-ended play. Check out these ideas to get things going, including a FULL YEAR of weekly dramatic play theme ideas.

Imagination Station

A great way to get started is to make an Imagination Station: a central starting place for all dramatic play. Instead of buying something, we decided to make ours following Lemonade Stand ideas.

Materials: 4 crate boxes, split 2×4, cross beam board, hardware and tools (we chose to drill holes and use bolts with tee nuts so that we could disassemble as needed).

Dramatic Play

What is dramatic play? A type of play where roles are acted out.

How do you do dramatic play?

  1. Choose your starting point. As you saw above, we created an Imagination Station to be our starting point.
  2. Choose a theme. We choose a new theme each week (see below for a year’s worth of ideas!)
  3. Prepare your materials. There is no need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on pretend play toys. Between paper and stuff around the house, you are good to go. For example, for the ice cream shop, you can make cones out of brown paper, some crumpled up pieces for scoops of ice cream and you likely have an ice cream scoop or spoon around the house.
  4. Play Together. Enjoy engaging in your family’s imagination. Play open-ended or even use it to teach moral lessons such as honesty and kindness.

52 Dramatic Play Themes

Having a new theme each week keeps things interesting. Here is a list of ideas to keep you going for a whole year. See below for some FREE Dramatic Play PRINTABLES. We’re doing this too, so check back often to see more ideas (updated February 20, 2020).

  • example of a dramatic play train station for pretend play
  • set up for imaginative play post office
  • Imagination Station Dramatic Play Veterinarian
  • Imagination Station Dramatic Play Flower Shop
  • Space Dramatic Play Center
  • Camp Site Dramatic Play
  • Dentist Dramatic Play
  • Pirate Imaginative Play
  • Dramatic Puppet Play
  • Pretend Play School Classroom
  • Imagination Station Bank
  • Dramatic Play Hospital
  • Imagination Station Airport
  • Dino Dig Dramatic Play
  • Santas Workshop Imaginative Play
  • Dramatic Play Construction Site
  • Optomologist Dramatic Play
  • Circus Imaginative Play
  1. Airport
  2. Aquarium
  3. Art Studio
  4. Baby Nursery
  5. Bakery
  6. Bank
  7. Beach
  8. Birthday Party
  9. Bug Lab
  10. Camping
  11. Car Mechanic
  12. Circus
  13. Classroom
  14. Clothing Store
  15. Construction
  16. Dentist
  17. Dinosaur Dig
  18. Farm/ Garden
  19. Fire Station
  20. Flower Shop
  21. Grocery Store
  22. Hair Salon
  23. Hospital
  24. IceCream Shop
  25. Junkyard
  26. Laboratory
  27. Kitchen
  28. Lemonade Stand
  29. Library
  30. Magic Show
  31. Movie Theatre
  32. Music Store
  33. News Station
  34. North Pole
  35. Optometrist
  36. Pet Groomer
  37. Photography Studio
  38. Pizzeria
  39. Pirate Ship
  40. Police Station
  41. Post Office
  42. Puppet Show
  43. Quilt/Fabric Store
  44. Restaurant
  45. Safari
  46. Space Station
  47. Soda Shop
  48. Train Station
  49. Toy Store
  50. Veterinarian
  51. Work Office
  52. Zoo

Free Printables

What We Learned from 52+ Dramatic Playtimes

  • You really don’t need that many toys. (Cardboard boxes, borrowed items, some open-ended toys like scarves and a few special items are what really made it work).
  • Get the kids involved in the prep work! (At first, you’ll notice we spent time making signs on the computer and framing them on colored backgrounds to get everything set up. It was SO much more fun and WAY less stress to just let the kiddos help make the signs on whatever paper or cardboard we happened to have around.)
  • Music is a fun addition. (It’s amazing how many correlating music themes you can find – such as Italian music for the pizzeria or some Greatest Showman soundtrack for the Circus).
  • Be Silly! (No need to be self-conscious about the exaggerated accents or non-releastic “working” conditions. Let your guard down, and for the dedicated Imagination Station time, be a kid with your kid).
  • There are sooo many teachable moments when playing pretend. (While “just” fun is fantastic too, the Imagination Station made for some non confrontational options for addressing situations such as sharing, serving and responsibility).

Like this? Check out our other family fun and toddler fun ideas!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *