Kindergarten – Dramatic Play Centres
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious leaning. Play is really the work of childhood”. Fred Rogers
Our Kindergarten boys learn a huge number of different skills through play. It allows them to explore, discover, negotiate with peers, take risks, listen to others, take turns, create meaning and solve problems. All of these important skills have been shown to help develop literacy, numeracy and social skills.
Research shows that ‘children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than non-players, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean’ (Edward Miller and Joan Almon 2009).
We know that children are inherently active learners and that they learn best when they’re having fun. We also know that they are more likely to be having fun when they are playing!
To help develop the boys’ vocabulary and provide authentic opportunities for writing, real life dramatic play experiences are set up within the Kindergarten classroom. These centres provide space for the boys to practise writing in context and through dialogue. Boys will naturally engage in writing through play when the opportunity is given. When writing occurs through play our Kindergarten boys become increasingly confident and believe they are good at writing, which in turn helps them to feel successful.
Writing is promoted in the dramatic play centres through various forms. For example, in the class restaurant the boys design the chalk menu board, fill out customer order forms (that are then given to the chef), create restaurant menus, and write the bill!
To maintain a transdisciplinary approach to learning, the play centres are linked to our unit of inquiry. Kindergarten are currently learning about ‘Living Things’ and have had fun playing in our class Veterinary Surgery, Restaurant and Science Laboratory.
In the Veterinary Surgery boys take turns adopting the role of the customer, receptionist and vet. They are encouraged to use vocabulary linked to their role and these words (with accompanying pictures) are displayed in the play centre. For example, stethoscope, x-ray, thermometer, injection, bandage.
In the Science Laboratory the boys observe a range of living things using microscopes and magnifying glasses. They are encouraged to ask questions about the living things and record their observations using drawings and labelling.
Our class restaurant is where the boys can make connections between living things and how they can be used by people in the form of food. The boys take turns adopting the role of the customer, waiter, chef and cashier (link to our maths unit on money). It’s wonderful to hear the boys taking and writing down the customers food orders and explaining the specials on the menu board (which they create/write). To date there have been no food critics!
After playing in one of the centres we focus on writing a recount. The boys think about one of the roles that they played and what they did in that role, focusing on addressing the ‘When’, ‘Who’ and ‘What’ of recount writing.
It has been absolutely wonderful to observe the Kindergarten boys play and as a result write! Long may they continue to stay curious, creative and playful.
Belinda Smallhorn – Kindergarten Teacher