Setting Up Your Dramatic Play Centre

I often get asked about the various centres in my classroom and which ones the students tend to gravitate (and enjoy!) the most. 
That's easy...our Dramatic Play Centre is definitely a hit year after year!
Why?  Well, it's always changing.  And it's always changing because the children are changing it!  They come up with ideas on what to turn it into based on their own interests, adventures with their family, and experiences.
At the beginning of the year, I don't set it up in any particular way.  I include plates, bowls, cutlery and other kitchen items for the children to explore.  All of these items are real, purchased at Ikea (I love their ceramic children's plates!) and second hand stores.  

We have a lot of discussions with the students about setting the table and what kinds of conversations people have around the dining table.  Dramatic play, after all, is a great way to build oral language skills!

Let me add that the actual area where the Dramatic Play Centre is also changes throughout the year!
The photo shown above is what this centre looked like last September when school started.  We quickly realized, however, that by moving it to the centre of the classroom would allow for more students to use it at once and also for materials from other centres (ie. blocks, math) to be used with dramatic play.
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to have discussions around tidy-up time.  We have included pictures of how we expect the materials to be put back.

You can find a lot of props and accessories for your Dramatic Play Centre at the Dollar Store (plastic food, cutlery, place mats), Ikea (ceramic bowls and plates for children), second-hand stores (pots, pans, glasses).
And, of course, we always ask the parents for items!  You never know how they can help!
I have also made my own pretend food using felt - I find that it lasts a long time and, with a good pair of scissors, it's easy to make!

How do the childrens' ideas come to life at this centre?
That can happen in many ways - but here is an example of conversations that might occur in your classroom!

A few children were eating lunch and realized that they all had pizza.  This lead them to discuss where they got the pizza from (some had ordered the night before and others had made it).  I spoke with the children about toppings that they liked and how a pizza is made.  They wanted to set up our Dramatic Play Centre into a pizzeria!  We started by making signs and deciding which ingredients we wanted to make.

At times, I like to have signs ready for the children to use (especially if it's the beginning of the year) and other times, we work with the children and have them create the signage.
Sometimes it seems everyone wants to be the pizza maker so this allows us to have conversations with the students about turn taking and making role cards (i.e. pizza maker, customer, delivery person, etc.)

Here are a few other examples of ideas the children thought of and turned this centre into:

Post Office: 
(great to do this around Valentine's Day to encourage writing letters to one another!)

You can read more about the Post Office here.

Sandwich Shop:
(easy to set up for the beginning of the year, when students are learning to sort toppings)

(you can incorporate real baking with your students too!)

Flower Shop:
(we love to create this when we focus on planting seeds)

Santa's Workshop:
(You can read all about that here)

Grocery Store:
(great when talking about Community Helpers, as you can even take a walk to the grocery store in your area)

(lots of conversations about travel happen after the Winter/March Break holidays so listen to your students!)

If you'd like to know more about the printables you see in the Dramatic Play centres above, you can click here (or the image below):

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