Imaginary Play

We have noticed a lot of Imaginary Play happening with the Red Room crew these last few weeks. This week in particular, it has been a huge hit among the children and a great joy for us teachers to observe.

According to NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), Dramatic Play is, “an integral part of a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.” It teaches self-regulation, conflict resolution, supports literacy development, and gives children a creative and an emotional outlet early in life.

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Student: We’re making lemonder!
Student: Yeah, it’s fragile!
Teacher: I wonder why it’s fragile?
Student: Well, it’s juice and sugar. That’s why it’s fragile for kids.
Teacher: What IS lemonder? It sounds like lemon and lavender.
Student: Oh, yeah! It is!
Student: It’s juice and sugar and you have to boil, boil, boil!
*makes stirring motions with her hands.

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The big blocks become a two-pilot airplane..

Student: Are you ready for take-off, pilot?
Student: YEAH! Oh, no! I think I heard something break. I need to go fix it!

Later, another student discovers that you can make them into a slide. The children take turns playing at their new classroom park!

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The following scenario was an interesting one to observe. It began with a small group of children pretending to be KITTIES, running from one area of the playground to another. Before long, DANGER entered the scene – a flood was coming!

The children began moving the large logs and branches (AKA their fort) from the designated Stick Area to higher ground to keep safe from the rising water. This was an incredible physical feat for them –  some of those logs and branches were HEAVY! The children were working so hard as a team and encouraging one another along the way. It was a beautiful site to behold.

It is very common to see moments of danger in children’s pretend play. It is a natural way to deal with conflict resolution and build those essential problem solving skills that they will need to succeed throughout their lives.dp3dp4dp5

At one point, one student finds a piece of sidewalk chalk + begins coloring some of the branches.

Student: I’m going to make our new fort really beautiful you guys.dp6

Even those friends that didn’t feel like doing the heavy lifting were contributing to this dramatic play story by cooking up some grub for their fellow kitties.

Student: I’m making pizza and tamales!
Student: I makin’ soup!

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Later in the week, a student puts some finishing touches on their fort. While carrying a large branch she exclaims: “Look at me! Look how strong I am. Strong girls will be fine!”dp9

As the week progressed, the group’s pretend game of KITTY continued in the classroom, as well. Here, the kitties had built an elaborate napping station, which is most essential in any KITTY imaginative play scenario. dp10

Before long, one student came by and exclaimed to the children, “There’s a fire drill, guys! We gotta go outside! Let’s line up!”

The few children that were still around all sat down on the rug to line up for the pretend fire drill. This instance was a great example of how children use dramatic play as a means of coping with an emotional experience. Earlier that morning, we had a practice fire drill to help prepare us for what to do if a real fire were ever to occur. Though we have a few children who are a bit unsure about fire drills, one in particular expressed some anxiety about it, covering her ears (minutes before the alarm even sounded), clearly stating, “I DON’T LIKE FIRE ALARMS.”

By contributing to this pretend scenario with her friends in this way, our nervous student is learning to process and manage her fear. Hopefully simple dramatic play experiences like this will help her and others who also feel apprehensive, navigate their emotions during our next fire drill!dp11

Imaginative Play is not only a joyful experience for young children, but it is an imperative part of childhood. Some of my very favorite childhood memories involve pretend scenarios with elaborate + often deeply emotional or even dangerous plot twists with my cousins that would last the length of our vacations together.

Reflections by Rachel Davis and Heather Sanderson, Red Room Co-Teachers