Most children spend part of their time in another “world” where a long block becomes a chainsaw, a piece of rope becomes a petrol hose for filling up the truck (trike), and red playdough becomes a dozen eggs!! This is all usually without any input or prompting from the teachers – often when there is some major group dramatic play happening we are there to provide props or make suggestions about a problem.
This dramatic/pretend play is an important part of early childhood. In self-directed/child initiated dramatic play, children have an opportunity to re-enact their own life experiences, or re-enact what they have read and seen in books. In doing so they help make sense of what is happening in the world around them. They can also share their combined knowledge and understandings, which contributes to their intellectual growth.
Listening to conversations between children during dramatic play gives us a pretty good idea of what is important in the children’s lives, and their interests. It is also very interesting listening as it is amazing what children know and take in without us adults realising it!
Dramatic play helps children develop their understanding about new experiences, develop and practise language, express fears and feelings, develop social skills (such as learning to cooperate, share and take turns), and practise problem solving. And of course it is very social and great for language development.