Every early childhood classroom should have a dramatic play area, usually a basic kitchen setup with a refrigerator, stove, sink and hopefully some play food. Hopefully the play food and some of the utensils are of multicultural content. There are many ways to enhance the dramatic play area on the tightest of budgets. For starters having children bring in clean empty food containers, (small cereal, Latke mix, pasta, and rice boxes etc.) Question is how much input are the children really having in this learning area? Are their interests embraced? The little things that are making their eyes twinkle and sparking their interests are the concepts that need to be incorporated into the dramatic play area and all the other learning centers. The above "Beauty Shop" was inspired and initiated by the children. I had a little girl in the classroom who absolutely refused to let her mother touch her hair. She would wait till she came to school and then have me brush and braid her hair.Well once we braided one child's hair the others wanted theirs done as well. I jokingly said to the children, " Does this look like a beauty salon"? Several children exclaimed, "Let's make a Beauty Shop"! Well we started out with taking pictures with profile shots and back views of hair styles for both girls and boys. I enlarged and laminated them and displayed them on the wall like a hair salon. We set up a couple chairs, two small tables and a couple of hairstyle magazines! I found a little play vanity at a local discount store within a week and we had our first station! A parent donated a second station then we OPEN for Business! * We also had a "Beauty Shop" in the shopping center, made from PVC, which was previously a SUKKOT! The shopping center consisted of a hamburger stand, a restaurant (type of food was determined by what the children were in the mood for!), and an ice cream shop, a lemonade stand and a farmer’s market! Children initiated this center which was inspired by a child who REFUSED to let her mother touch her hair!!!
The "Evolving Outside Classroom"
Farmers' Marketplace "Farmers' Market" created a wonderful opportunity for the children to expand on their outside play area. When shopping they chose what items they wanted or needed to prepare their "dinner". The market place was stocked with a combination of real fruits and vegetables to pine cones, acorns, shells, leaves, and other re-purposed items that warranted further exploration. This evolving outside dramatic play area fostered language development, help children understand simple math concepts.
When I created the "Farmers Market" in our "Outside Classroom" we utilized mostly recycled and re-purposed materials. From wooden crates, palettes, and wooden spice racks found in thrift shops. We were discussing foods and what we like to eat after one of the children brought in some fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market. The CHILDREN requested that we make the Farmers' Market and so we did!!!