Dramatic Play: Part 1

Dramatic play happens when children create different roles and act them out. When they do this, they are pretending to be something or someone different. They might decide they want to be a racecar or pretend to be someone they look up to, like a parent.  Dramatic play is important to the developmental learning process and should always be encouraged.

There are two different types of dramatic play, structured and unstructured.

  • Structured play is when your child’s play has a desired outcome. During this type of play, a parent or teacher creates a scenario that they want the child to play in. (Example: a teacher setting up a doctor’s office in the classroom)
  • Unstructured play is when a child is given the freedom to choose their own ideas and scenarios using items that are available to them.(Example: Your child creates a fort out of the couch and blankets)

Dramatic play is important because it is helps with childhood development. It also teaches children many lessons that are very beneficial for them to learn.


Encouraging Dramatic Play

As mentioned above, dramatic play is very beneficial for the intellectual growth of your child and it should always be encouraged. Many preschools have areas that are dedicated to dramatic play, with many dress-up items and toys.

You can also encourage dramatic play at home, even if you don’t have room for many toys or dress up clothes.

  • Children can play with some scarfs and hats, some of your old clothes, and/or a few stuffed animals.
  • Let your child pretend that their toys are whatever they want them to be, like a racecar becoming a spaceship.


A great resource to promote early literacy is DayByDayVA. This website provides a Family Literacy Calendar, which has songs, stories, videos, and more to help promote early literacy. Each day, there are different activities for you and your child to do together. (Note: As of November 2017, Tumblebooks is no longer supported by the Library of Virginia or Handley Regional Library.)

Read the second part of Dramatic Play here.


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