Dramatic play is most effective when children come up with the story and decide how it should be acted out. Adults can help children use the following skills as they act out their plays:
Role play: pretending to be someone else
Use of props: using objects to expand and enhance pretend play
Make-believe: copying the actions of persons from various settings (e.g., waiter, doctor)
In-depth play: spending an extended amount of time playing out a theme or idea in dramatic play
Interaction: playing cooperatively with others and exchanging ideas about roles and other details
Verbal communication: using language skills to act out roles and negotiate play details.
Adults can also help children engage in more complex and extended dramatic play using the following ideas:
Model pretend play: Use books, songs, or stories to engage children in using their imagination, such as having children climb a tree, swing on a vine like a monkey, or crawl through a tunnel. Have the children suggest what happens next.
Observe children’s play: Pay attention to who is playing, the language being used, and the roles they are acting out. Observing may also give you new ideas for props and dramatic play themes of interest.
Participate as a supporting character: If children don’t seem to know what to do next, consider entering their play as a supporting character to give them ideas. If the area is a restaurant, you could sit down at a table and say, “Will someone please take my order?”