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.
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).
What is dramatic play? A type of play where roles are acted out.
How do you do dramatic play?
Choose your starting point. As you saw above, we created an Imagination Station to be our starting point.
Choose a theme. We choose a new theme each week (see below for a year’s worth of ideas!)
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.
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.
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).