During dramatic play, children collaborate with their peers to create stories and scenarios, and to make choices about roles, rules, and responsibilities. As they work together, children listen to ideas shared by their friends, learn how to give input, and find ways to creatively combine everyone’s ideas together. Through collaborative play, children learn from their peers and become more comfortable in a team-based environment, experiences that will come in handy in kindergarten and beyond.
Listening and Verbal Expression
Group dramatic play requires children to listen to their peers and to respond in a way that their peers can understand. Developing these communication skills supports childrens’ ability to make friends and express themselves in classroom discussions, skills that will help smooth their transition into kindergarten.
Role-playing during dramatic play gives children an opportunity to imagine their character’s feelings, and to choose how their character will respond to the actions of other characters. In an article published in Florida State University’s early childhood newsletter, Marie E. Cecchini MS, explains, “Dramatic play promotes the use of speaking and listening skills. When children take part in this type of play, they practice words they have heard others say, and realize that they must listen to what other ‘players’ say in order to be able to respond in an appropriate fashion. It also teaches them to choose their words wisely so that others will understand exactly what it is they are trying to communicate.”
Problem-Solving with Peers
Dramatic play offers many opportunities for children to work through problem-solving skills with their peers. For example, children will have to negotiate what role each of them will play, what scenario they want to act out, how to set up the scene, and more.
An article from Scholastic describes the connection between dramatic play and problem-solving: “Pretend play provides [children] with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s two children wanting to play the same role or searching for the just right material to make a roof for the playhouse, your child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever.”
This early problem-solving experience demonstrates the benefits of learning from others, and working toward a common goal, skills that will help them become effective team members in the many group projects they will engage in throughout their school years.
Fine Motor Development
Using and developing small motor skills in their hands and fingers paves the way for later classroom skills such as writing with a pencil and cutting with scissors.
During dramatic play, children enjoy using pretend tools and objects to do the tasks they see being done by the grown-ups in their lives. Acting out these scenarios by imitating adults invites children to move around and to use fine motor skills. An article published for Michigan State University’s extension program gives examples of the connection between pretend play and fine motor development: “Children practice controlling the small muscles of their wrists, hands and fingers as they hold a baby bottle up to a doll’s mouth or turn a toy screwdriver around and around.”
Resources for Further Learning
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of dramatic play, you might enjoy the following resources.
- How Dramatic Play Supports Social-Emotional Learning and Development. This article from the G2K archives highlights the way dramatic play in a group setting strengthens children’s social-emotional skills, including: collaboration with peers, perspective-taking, learning about different cultures, and thinking about the experiences of others
- How Dramatic Play Can Enhance Learning. This article, published by Florida International University, highlights dramatic play’s rich learning opportunities and shares tips educators can use to create engaging and inspiring dramatic play centers.