When I am dressing up or playing in the Dramatic Play Area, I try on various roles to help me process and understand my world. I am developing my social skills and ability to play with others, while using my imagination and being creative. – Child Care Lounge
I remember playing “school” as a child and knowing that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Then the next day I played “farm” and I knew I wanted to be a farmer. The day after that it was an astronaut, etc. Each day was an exciting new adventure and an opportunity to explore a new job to do when I grew up. My imagination was my guide, and play was my tool.
“Play is the most important medium for development and learning for young children, aged birth to eight years.” – Ann Barbour, professor of early childhood education at California State University, LA
Play is how children learn to communicate with others and interact with the world around them. A child can try new things through play in a safe way. Play is the medium where children start exploring writing, reading, math, science, movement, and other skills that are essential in school readiness and success. One tool that teachers and parents alike have used to enhance children’s play is the use of prop boxes.
Prop Boxes—plastic bins or cardboard boxes filled with materials and props related to one topic, such as math or writing. The boxes contain hands-on materials (books, toys, etc.) to explore, play, and learn about specific topics.
When I taught preschool I loved to use prop boxes. It is a great way to organize materials by themes. You can rotate the boxes in and out of the classroom so that you always have “new” materials for the children to explore. Today, there are many child care providers that benefit from prop boxes that are available through the Early Childhood Alliance Lend. Each month the providers get new books and materials to add variety to what they regularly use with kids.
You can make prop boxes too! You just need a box to put materials in and a theme. Prop boxes can be on any theme, such as camping, beach, post office, or farm; your imagination is your limit. To help with materials to add to the prop box, check out this link to an article, Questions to Consider When Choosing Materials for Prop Boxes by Scholastic. .
The prop boxes are also a great way to link the dramatic play area in your child care program or home with other areas in the learning environment. For instance, a bakery prop box might contain materials to set up a bakery in the dramatic play area, such as chef’s clothing, pots and pans; books about baking for the reading area; a game about baking for the math area; art activities with food pieces for the art area, and a bakery truck and wooden bakery building block for the block area.
Looking for ideas to enhance your dramatic play area for children? Here is a list of some Internet resources about prop boxes:
- The Prop Box – Setting the Stage for Meaningful Play from Education World – Great article with ideas and links to other resources.
- Prop Box Magic – Instructions about creating a prop box and ideas for themes.
- Child Care Lounge – Ideas for materials to use in various prop boxes.
- 10 Prop Boxes for Learning by NAEYC – Ideas for 10 prop boxes.
- Early Learning – Prop Boxes by Johns Hopkins University – Sample lesson plan and materials that were included in a larger prop box.
- Physical Development: Prop Boxes for Physical Play from Scholastic – Good ideas about prop boxes for physical play.
Have A Great Week!