Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Overlooked Learning in Pretend Play

I LOVE to watch Sunshyne work hard at pretend play! She comes up with these elaborate scenarios with layers of imagination. I think about the thought that has to go into her mini "soap operas." How did she come up with what happened next? Why did she use a particular item to represent something needed for her setting? These are all questions that keep me interested and delighted at Pretend Play. Many times parents of young children overlook the importance of pretend play and how their preschooler is learning from the experience. Well, today I'm here to help you better understand and appreciate what's happening during this process. I'll even give you a few tips on how to get involved and offer new learning experiences for your little one. First of all, lets talk about some of the valuable skills that your preschooler is learning through pretend play. Language skills is BIG here! They are being able to practically apply new words that they've learned and play with word arrangements in a non-threatening environment....what better way to learn new things? Intellectual skills are also being developed. Like I mentioned earlier, your preschooler is having to think about what will happen next. They may come up with a logical ending to a situation (this is normally for the older child). They may have some silly things going on to add humor. Dramatical outcomes or deal with some emotional issues. Speaking of emotional issues...they are also developing social-emotional skills. Again, they can explore anger, annoyance, sadness, guilt or any number of emotions in a non-threatening arena. They may also ask a friend to get in on the fun which adds a new facet to pretend play and extends the social-emotional piece. They can practice sharing and diplomatic negotiations about the scenarios. Lastly, the obvious gross and fine motor skills involved with moving around and manipulating small objects to accomplish effects and settings. Wheww...that's a lot of learning! Now, here's those tips on how you can get involved and offer extended learning experiences. I have been collecting empty water bottles, milk containers and food boxes for about 3 months now. Yes, my husband thinks I'm crazy...but I have a purpose! I want to teach Sunshyne about money and currency exchange. I was thinking that turning my dining room into a general store would be a great hands on way to learn. You can use this same concept to teach your preschooler many lessons. If you have a house full of ordinary household stuff, you can teach through pretend play. Here's some suggestions: Dress Up Tea Party-Teaching Manners and courtesy ~You will need: Old hats, scarves, shirts, jewelry, shoes, dresses, glasses, teapot, cups, and maybe some homemade cookies to make it special! Shoe Store-Money, measurements, matching ~You will need: Old shoe boxes, old or too small shoes, stuffed animals or dolls, play money (can be homemade), measuring instrument. Beauty shop-Hygiene ~You will need: Dolls (preferably with hair), stuffed animals, combs, brushes, empty shampoo bottles, towels, mirror, hair dryer (optional-maybe for older children). Zoo-animals, biology, nurturing, environmental issues, compassion for animals ~You will need: Stuffed animals, boxes for cages, maps (can be homemade), animal books, empty pet food containers. Note~This one can get elaborate if you want to encourage learning about habitats and plant life as well, just add the silk plants or paper made ones to the scene! Well, that's it for this week. I hope that you find this post helpful in getting your imaginative juices flowing. As always, feel free to comment or share your child's pretend play experiences with us!

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