On Monday, we had our class that revolved around the Post Office and writing letters. I combined the Post Office theme with beginning letter sounds and sight words.
First we skimmed through a book about the Post Office (you can see my list here). We also sang a couple of songs and then moved on to the learning centers. I, again, made a passport so parents and kids can remember what we did and make sure that they don’t miss a center.
This is my first attempt at creating a pretend play environment for my kids in our home. As I have said in a prior post here, I need to keep things cheap. This entire grocery store cost me about $30, although we had a coupon and gift certificate for the shopping cart. I primarily used recycled and reused materials. I started collected materials long before I put the store together.
My kids love, love, love this store and play with it practically everyday! There are also soo many educational qualities to it. I have a previous post on the benefits of pretend play here. With the grocery store there is the use of imagination and role-playing, the introduction of money and addition and subtraction, healthy food choices, and life skills such as taking turns. Also, it is a great way for kids to learn environmental text. They can “read” the different labels that they are familiar with, such as Cheerios.
My daughter shopping. I would love to say that I cleaned up for the picture, but I thought it was better to show what it usually looks like. I am sure that I can figure out a way to keep the items upright on the shelf at some point.
I love the idea of creating a life-like mailroom for my kids. A Mailroom or Post Office is unique in that it combines pretend play with learning to read and write. I haven’t made a mail room in our house yet, so I thought that I would create a wish list of what I would like to use in the future in our house and/or classroom.
First, I thought that I would share some of what I look for in setting up a make-believe environment:
- I have to be cheap. I, personally, need to be able to cheaply purchase or create the environment. That being said, this is a wish list so I may feature items out of my price range to ask for Christmas or to replicate in my own way.
- My space is a bit limited. Therefore, I would like the environment to be somewhat portable. I would like the option of packing it up and storing it away or taking it to the classroom.
- Also, I have a very high tolerance for messes, however, I would like the environment to be easy to tidy up, if needed.
- I have included some more of my ideas and a bit of research on an earlier post here
Here we go….I would love for my children to look the part. I found two uniforms here and here that, at the time of posting, were about $25.
I absolutely love pretend play for toddlers, preschoolers, and beyond. I think that it helps children explore the world in a safe environment. It also helps in many other ways, such as fostering their imagination, cooperative play, learning life skills, and scientific questioning. This category will feature different ways that I use pretend play in our house and many ways that I would love to use it in the future. The following backs up my claim that pretend play is amazing.
THE RESEARCH: Psychology Today Article
I read an interesting article in support of pretend play from Psychology Today. The article looks at the benefits of pretend, or make-believe, play in children from one and a half to seven years old and considers it to be a “vital component to the normal development of a child.” I recommend taking a look at it, but if you don’t have time, I understand so I listed some of the advantages mentioned below.
- exposes children to different vocabulary and language structure
- helps children express their feelings
- uses problem solving skills with other children and adults
- exposes children to empathy and communication
- helps children learn to be flexible
- fosters imagination and curiosity
- promotes creativity in fact…
- “Root-Bernstein’s research with clearly creative individuals such as Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant awardees, indicated that early childhood games about make-believe worlds were more frequent in such individuals than in control participants in their fields”
My kids making dinner with chalk. Yum!
There are so many different ways to use pretend play with your children. It can range from setting up some train tracks to creating a life-like environment in your home. Here are some thought on the latter….
- Start by thinking about the places your child loves to frequent. The Post Office, the supermarket, the salon, etc. are great ideas because your child already has some knowledge on these locations. Plus it is easy to collect materials that will make your pretend play experiences authentic.
- I feel the more realistic you can make the play, the better. Every little detail helps. It helps to go through whatever environment you are going to reenact to plan out your pretend environment. For example, look around your post office if you are going to set one up for your child. See if there are any brochures or signs that you can use or replicate.
- The more details the better also. If you are creating a supermarket, include coupons, a list, and/or even bags to put the veggies in (just use an alternative to plastic).
I am so excited to further exploring ideas for pretend play! I am also so excited to use some of my ideas in my classes. I highly recommend you try to use it with your child-who knows maybe they will be a Nobel Prize winner one day! Enjoy!