“Music, dance, drama, and story are the oldest ways human beings learned to pass on information, traditions, customs, and beliefs…. In the vocabulary of some Native American and African languages, there is no word for art, because art is part of everything the people do. Children are natural connectors. Similarly, they see the performing arts as part of everything they do” (Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld; article: Derry Koralek Young Children, March 2010, p. 10).

As we continue our series on Fine Arts, let’s examine how creative and dramatic play is beneficial to children’s learning. Do you remember playing dress-up or performing for your friends and parents? Take a walk down memory lane with us while we talk about some products that will be great in your preschool or daycare center’s outdoor classroom.

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, renowned dance instructor, commented: “I know from my experiences that when children have the chance to move and to be creative, it helps them engage with the rest of the curriculum…. [M]ovement involve[s] language and patterning, which support reading and problem solving” (p. 12).

A playhouse offers abundant opportunities for movement and creative play. A playhouse provides the structure but the children create the story. Depending on the children’s imagination, the playhouse can be a home, bank, restaurant, covered bridge, etc. Throw a sheet over the playhouse and it’s a cave. The options are endless! A gas pump allows children to fill things up, including their bikes, wagons, wheelchairs, or even shoes. Children will increase their ability to problem solve through exploration (i.e., pump gas like an adult). (An example of a fun playhouse and gas pump can be found at The Adventurous Child.) 

Hot day? Take your kids outside and let them cool off with a car wash. A great addition to any outdoor play area, the car wash allows children to enter and exit through realistic plastic flaps, similar to a real car wash. A pipe runs down the roof line and has several sprayer jets that release water on the children as they ride through the car wash. Connect a standard hose to the sprayer jets, turn on the water and the fun begins! Water play can improve children’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Playing with the car wash will allow them to participate in a variety of gross/fine motor and sensory activities, make simple cause/effect predictions as well as use new vocabulary, and role play different types of occupations. Consider adding a car wash to your outdoor play area today!

Finally, make your children’s favorite stories come to life with a store front. Place the store front along a bike path and let children create their own story —maybe a lemonade stand, a counter at a bank, post office or fast food restaurant – the possibilities are as plentiful as the imagination. Just remember: as the teacher or care provider, “if you dominate the play, you take away some of the creative value for the children” (Miller, 1989. p. 41). Let them be in control.

Creative and dramatic play is integral to developing children’s imaginations, as well as encouraging the use of new vocabulary. What’s not to love about products and equipment that encourage fun and learning simultaneously?

 


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