Role play can give a wonderful insight into a child’s world, as they act out and process different situations. A carefully managed role-play area, that is regularly changed also gives practitioners opportunities to model and reinforce positive behaviours like being gentle with the babies and caring for one another or making cups of tea for each other, all whilst sharing space and resources. Seeing a child just a few days after having a new-born baby sister, gently placing one hand under the baby dolls head and the other hand under its bottom as she very carefully lifted the doll out of the cot for a cuddle, really highlights the value of role play.
Placing real objects into the role play area broadens learning experiences for the children. Introduce a tea set into your home corner, using china cups and saucers along with a stainless-steel teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl. Pretend tea parties will start, sitting at the laid table, pouring tea, passing the milk jug to each other and stirring in different amounts of sugar. Play sessions are naturally extended and my group couldn’t wait to play with the tea set again next time we had it out. Children from the youngest to the oldest seem to respect the ‘realness’ of it and we had no throwing or carelessness, which we often have when using a plastic tea set.
Add real food to the role play area, as feeling a real piece of fruit or vegetable is so much more fulfilling than holding even a good plastic replica. Peeling an orange or seeing how a leek has so many layers, allows the children to use their senses as they look, feel, smell and yes even taste.
Put dry pasta in the home corner and the children will pretend to cook with it, but there is so much more to see, bringing both maths and language into the learning experience too. Observe children counting and sorting the tubes, shells and bows into the different types and asking each other questions like, “Do you want long or short pasta for dinner?” or “Do you like red or green pasta?”
Role play panels are also a perfect addition to any environment. Whether transforming a space into a kitchen, travel agent, garden centre, farm or shop, a panel can add character and offers a creative back drop for children’s play.
With thanks to Heather Robinson, Deputy Manager at Cedar House Day Nursery for writing this blog post.