Dramatic play lesson plans for preschool

Ultimate List of Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

Preschoolers love to pretend! Engaging in one of these rich dramatic play ideas is the best way for children to learn and grow in preschool. At a minimum, the basic dramatic play set-up is a housekeeping center, but when it’s time for a change, try one of these creative dramatic play center ideas in the home living area of your preschool classroom.

What can children learn while engaged in dramatic play?

The list of ways that children grow and develop while engaged in rich dramatic play is infinite.

  • Children develop their imaginations. They learn to be creative and think out of the box.
  • Students expand their vocabularies. They engage in authentic language development— talking to each other, listening, asking questions, using words and conversation for real purposes.
  • Children practice negotiating, sharing, and taking turns.
  • Early learners get practical experience with sorting, classification, and organizing.
  • Children increase their ability to self-regulate.
  • Children expand their attention spans while they plan play activities that last increasingly longer periods of time.

Airport – Dramatic Play Center

This dramatic play scenario is complex, engaging, and oh-so-cute! It is hands-down guaranteed to be one of the students’ very favorite ways to play. The Airport is the one center that students come back years later and ask about. It’s the one that even school-aged kids will play with for hours on end. It is a blast! Click HERE for more pictures.

Baby Nursery – Dramatic Play Center

Preschoolers love to pretend to take care of babies and it such an important lesson on how to be caring, gentle and loving. The best part is, most of the supplies are probably already in your playroom. Click HERE for more pictures and ideas.

Birthday Party – Dramatic Play Center

Is there anything better than a birthday party for no reason at all?! No, there isn’t! This Birthday Party dramatic play center is easy because children typically know how to play it. They’ve likely been to many birthday parties and may even start planning their own party months in advance. If you’re just getting started, this one is great for the first month of school.

Cookie Shop

Bakery – Dramatic Play Center

Children can bake and sell goodies at their very own Cookie Shop. The best parts of this center are the do-it-yourself cookies and double oven! Click on the picture below to see all of the photos.

Flower Shop – Dramatic Play Center

Setting up a flower shop is the perfect dramatic play scenario for spring, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. The preschoolers count and add flowers in their bouquets and practice tying bows (or knots!) with ribbon. Click HERE for more inspiration.

Grocery Store – Dramatic Play Center

Ask your preschoolers to save and bring in all of their empty recycling containers, then use them to set up a “Shop Smart” grocery store. It’s guaranteed to be one of their favorites. Click HERE for simple step-by-step directions.

Hospital – Dramatic Play Center

This classic dramatic play center is another favorite. Set up a hospital with a triage cot, doctor costumes and lots of props. No explanation is needed! This is one of the centers (like the grocery store and the restaurant) that the children are usually very familiar with. They love to be called “Doctor”! Click HERE for more pictures of the set-up.

Hot Drink Cafe – Dramatic Play Center

Warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and a fresh pastry at the “Star Drinks” hot drink cafe. Click HERE to see lots of photo inspiration.

Ice Cream Parlor – Dramatic Play Center

Chocolate and mint ice cream with cherries on top… coming right up! Preschoolers love to scoop and sell this summer treat to their friends. Click HERE to see more pictures.

Library – Dramatic Play Center

Do your students love to reread the books that you share with them in class? Set your dramatic play area up as a Library. Allow them to “check out” books with their very own library card and return them to school the next day.

Pancake and Waffle

Cafe – Dramatic Play Center

What’s for breakfast?! Add the pancake and waffle sets (available HERE and HERE from Melissa & Doug) to the kitchen and fire up the grill. Children will love the custom menus and all of the toppings for their delicious breakfast.

Pizza Parlor – Dramatic Play Center

Make a brick oven from a cardboard box and a roll of “brick” wrapping paper. Preschoolers will make pizzas, and order pizzas, and deliver pizzas, and pretend to eat pizzas ALL.DAY.LONG! Click HERE to see all the photos.

Post Office – Dramatic Play Center

Invite children to write letters to the parents or grandparents, to make cards for their classmates, and to deliver the mail at the Post Office Dramatic Play Center. Click HERE to see lots of pictures.

Restaurant – Dramatic Play Center

Can we take your order? The restaurant dramatic play center is chock full of opportunities to practice reading, writing, and teamwork. Click HERE to see the menu and order forms that are perfect for emergent readers.

Sandwich Shop – Dramatic Play Center

Switch the general restaurant into a fast-food sandwich shop. With this dramatic play idea, students will follow the menu board from left to right to choose the bread, protein, vegetables, and toppings for their very own sandwich.

Taco Stand – Dramatic Play Center

Would you like a taco or a burrito from this very popular Taco Stand? Preschoolers will take your order then create the taco or burrito of your choice. What a way to “spice” up the dramatic play center!

Vet Clinic – Dramatic Play Center

While you’re learning about zoo animals, pets, or even the farm, this dramatic play Vet Clinic is a great way to engage children in pretend play. They will care for the animals and become veterinarians, x-ray technicians, and nurses.

Fairy Tale Plays – Theater Dramatic Play Idea

Transformed trifold science boards into a straw house, a stick house and a brick house for an adorable version of the Three Little Pigs. Preschoolers who can memorize and act out stories will have great comprehension skills when they get to school. It’s also fun act out Goldilocks and the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Fountain Drink Machine – Prop for Dramatic Play

Whether you’re setting up a plain restaurant, a pizza parlor, an ice cream shop, or a taco stand, here’s a surefire FUN way to spice it up. Add a drink machine! You can use a box or a bookshelf with just a few simple additions (paper cups and tissue paper) to make it extraordinary. Click HERE for more details.

Window Washer – Dramatic Play Idea

If you’re looking for a quick set-up, cheap center, this is it! Get all the supplies from the dollar store and added water. It’s great for summer, too. Take those kids outside and put them to work! Sometimes the best dramatic play ideas are the simplest.

Dinosaur Dig Site – Dramatic Play Center

Put on paleontology hats and look for dinosaur bones and footprints at this dramatic play dig site. Click HERE to see how to use a simple ingredient from the craft store to turn the sensory table into an excavation site.

Do your kids like to pretend or role play? What is your favorite way to set it up? Whatever it is, have tons of fun playing and learning with your children today.

Be sure to follow this Dramatic Play Pinterest board for even more dramatic play ideas.

Follow Play to Learn Preschool’s board Dramatic Play Preschool on Pinterest.

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Ultimate List of Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

Do you need dramatic play ideas to spice up your pretend play area? If your play pretend play area needs a refresh, you’re in the right place!

Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

Pretend play is one of the most effective ways to help young children learn important academic skills in preschool. Setting up your dramatic play center as a basic home-living or housekeeping center is a great way to get started. But if you really want to engage and motivate your little learners, then you’ll want to try out some of these creative dramatic play ideas to give your center a makeover.

Why is Dramatic Play Important

There are so many social, emotional, and academic benefits young children learn when they’re engaged in dramatic play. Here are just some of those benefits:

Attention Spans — Have you ever noticed that your kids can’t seem to sit and listen to a story for very long, but they could play forever in the dramatic play center? It turns out, when they’re given uninterrupted chunks of time to play, your kids are developing increased attention spans.
Oral Language — Young children talk to each other in the dramatic play center, talking to their peers freely helps them develop critical vocabulary skills. When they talk to each other they’re practicing both receptive and expressive language skills, which both have a direct relationship to future reading success.
Self-Regulation — Concepts like sharing and taking turns are important life skills that can be learned while engaging in daily dramatic play experiences

Dramatic Play Themes for Preschool

Apple Orchard Dramatic Play Center
Picking apples has never been so much fun! Your kids will have a blast picking apples and so much more in this adorable apple orchard dramatic play center.

Baby Nursery
Do your kids have younger sisters or brothers at home? Are they fascinated with babies? A baby doll nursery is perfect for any time of the year because it’s meaningful to all young children. They have a natural fascination with babies, which makes this baby nursery dramatic play center even more fun and engaging!

Bakery Dramatic Play Ideas
Setting up a bakery is during any time of the year, but can be especially fun around the holidays. During the holidays, baking may be taking place in homes and children may be tasting lots of yummy holiday treats – making this bakery dramatic play theme even more meaningful.

Birthday Party Dramatic Play Theme
It’s no secret that young children are obsessed with their birthdays! Your kids will have a blast pretending it’s their birthday with this super fun birthday dramatic play center.

Camping Dramatic Play Ideas
Camping is a unique and fascinating dramatic play theme for young children. What could be better than sleeping outdoors or cooking hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire? Your kids are sure to love this camping dramatic play theme.

Car Repair Shop
Your little mechanics will love fixing and repairing cars in the car repair shop dramatic play center.

Best Dramatic Play Themes

Dinosaur Dig Dramatic Play Center
Do you have any little dinosaur lovers in your classroom? Your kids will love learning about paleontologists and dinosaurs with this educational and fun dinosaur dramatic play center.

Doctor’s Office Dramatic Play Ideas
Most young children can relate to being sick and going to the doctor’s office. Use this familiarity to create a fun and educational doctor’s office dramatic play center your kids will love.

Fire Station
Putting out fires and responding to emergency calls will be the highlight of your student’s year in this fire station dramatic play center.

Flower Shop Dramatic Play Theme
Flowers are given for many different occasions such as; birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, weddings, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and more. Your little florists will love arranging, wrapping, and delivering flowers for special occasions with this flower shop dramatic play center.

Garden and Farmer’s Market
Turn your dramatic play center into a garden or a farmer’s market in the spring. This farmer’s market dramatic play center is the perfect addition to your spring or farm theme!

Dramatic Play Prop Boxes

Grocery Store Dramatic Play Center
All young children can relate to going to the grocery store. This familiar experience can be used to create an educational and super fun grocery store dramatic play center.

Dramatic Play Theme Ideas

North Pole Wrapping Station
Need a dramatic play center for a holiday theme? Your kids will love writing Christmas cards, and selecting and wrapping gifts in this fun North Pole dramatic play center.

Hot Chocolate Dramatic Play Center
Need a dramatic play idea for your winter theme? This hot chocolate dramatic play center will have your little baristas making and serving hot chocolate, and learning important academic skills while doing so!

Hair Salon
Hear me out, I promise I’m not crazy! Your little barbers and stylists will learn many important academic skills while working in this hair salon dramatic play center. They’ll love styling the hair on doll heads instead of cutting their own.

Ice Cream Shop
Need a fun dramatic play theme for the end of the school year or summer? Look no further, this ice cream shop dramatic play center is packed full of educational opportunities disguised under mounts of pretend sprinkles and whipped cream.

Pizza Parlor
What toppings would you like on your pizza? Your kids will have so much fun taking orders, making, and delivering pizza with this pizza shop dramatic play theme.

Post Office
It’s true, most adults don’t look forward to going to the post office, but it can be a fun experience for little kids. Your little mail carriers will have a blast addressing packages, mailing postcards, and delivering mail with this post office dramatic play center.

Dramatic Play Prop Boxes

Pumpkin Patch
The pumpkin patch is always fun for young children. There are hay rides, special treats, and pumpkins to pick! What’s not to like about this super fun pumpkin patch dramatic play center?

Breakfast and lunch are served! Your students will adore taking orders and serving customers in this restaurant dramatic play center.

Sandwich Shop
Your little learners will love ordering and making sandwiches in this sandwich shop dramatic play center!

Space Center
A space station dramatic play center offers many opportunities for your students to experience math, literacy, science, and STEM in fun and meaningful ways. Your little astronauts will love playing and learning in their very own space station!

Taco Stand
Make every day Taco Tuesday in your classroom with this super fun taco stand dramatic play center!

Vet Clinic
Your kids will love taking care of their pretend pets and making them feel better in their very own vet clinic dramatic play center.

More Dramatic Play Ideas

Drama games in preschool | Preschool education

Author: Tomilova Olga Viktorovna

Organization: GBDOU DS No. 67 comb. type of Vyborgsky district of St. Petersburg

Settlement: St. Petersburg

Dramatic play is a spontaneous amateur activity during which the child tests, clarifies and expands knowledge about the world and about himself. As they play, children reenact places and scenes they have seen in life, imitate the actions of family members, and assume the roles of various people they have met. They reproduce the world that they understand, or one that brings confusion and fear into their minds. nine0003

From early childhood, children imitate the sounds they hear and the actions they see. While enjoying pretend activities, children react to new situations with movement and voice. That's how they play. This game, if supported, develops into dramatization: an art form, a socializing activity and a way of mastering reality.

Creative dramatization and play, especially in young children, cannot be isolated or limited to a certain place and time. In a group, at home or in a public place, creative dramatization and play help the child develop responsibility, develop new interests and, especially in a group, absorb new knowledge. nine0003

Dramatization is one of the most personal and individual ways of learning. In creative dramatization, there are no performers who memorize roles and use accessories and costumes to influence the audience. In such creative activities, children spontaneously invent, act out and interpret familiar situations and themes for themselves. For example, they act out situations based on real or imaginary roles that they have come into contact with in life, such as going to the zoo. In dramatic play, children create their own world in which they master the real world. In this imaginary world, they try to solve real life problems. They repeat, play again, and relive their experiences. In this way, dramatic play helps the child develop from a purely egocentric being into a person who is able to interact with others. nine0003

Developmental Influence

In dramatic play, children often spontaneously take on the role or actions of someone else (pretend to put out a fire like firemen), use objects in a substitution function (sit on a building block while pretending to ride on a truck through the streets) and play out familiar situations (going to the market or grocery store). For a rich and meaningful preschooler, this is the ideal arena for emotionally rich and meaningful learning. Dramatic play develops the child in every way. If the educator correctly organizes the activities of children, they will receive a versatile (mental and motor) experience that is adequate to their individual characteristics. nine0003

In creative dramatization and play, a preschooler performs actions that:

1) contribute to the development of the five senses;

2) develop active and passive speech;

3) help children understand human relationships and learn patterns of behavior;

4) link ideas to each other;

5) stimulate creative thought and problem solving;

6) increase self-respect;

7) develop ways of expressing emotions and feelings; nine0003

8) develop fine and general motor skills;

9) signify the joy and freedom of childhood.

While playing, children learn to concentrate, exercise their imagination, try out new ideas, practice adult behaviors, and gain a sense that they influence the world around them. In addition, children gain a growing understanding of the beauty, rhythm, and organization of their environment and their own bodies as they learn ways to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and emotions to others. nine0003

Social development

The role-playing game almost always involves the participation of several children, so it is the most important factor in the social development of the child. The game often includes elements of joint planning and cooperation. Children may argue and get upset, but they get used to dealing with the interests of others. At the same time, they begin to understand that it is interesting and pleasant to play and study with peers.

Emotional development

Children bring to play what they know about life: their knowledge and delusions, their wishes and fears.

Play reflects children's understanding of social roles and relationships. Children can also act out events they have experienced or heard about. They may act out a frightening event, such as an accident they witnessed, to help deal with difficult emotions. They may also replay pleasant events to re-experience the pleasure. nine0003

In role-play, children can dress up and become whoever they want to be. Children depict people and events not only as they would like to see them, thereby expressing their desires or fears. The game gives the child the opportunity to express negative feelings that the child cannot yet put into words.

In play, children act out life experiences by selecting and organizing roles and events in accordance with the desire to maintain emotional well-being. Through play, children increase their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, their attachments and dislikes, their ability to lead and persuade or obey. All this contributes to the development of self-awareness. nine0003

Intellectual development

During drama play, children develop cognitive skills, learning to connect one with another, to understand patterns of behavior and to organize information. They try ideas and learn from trial and error, they plan and execute plans, and form a vision of the past, present, and future. Children use memory to reconstruct people and events. In the game, children create using materials and toys in completely new ways. Thus, dramatic play stimulates mental development not only through the support of creative manifestations, but also through the involvement of speech skills that play a key role in thinking and communication. nine0003

Literature used:

1. Filatova O. Theatrical game-dramatization // Game and children. - 2013. - № 2.

2. Silivon V. The development of creativity in children in the process of dramatization games // Preschool education. - 1983. - No. 4.

3. Makhaneva M.D. Theatrical classes in kindergarten: A guide for employees of preschool institutions. - M.: TC Sphere, 2004.

Published: 10/18/2021

Curriculum of the course "Puppet theater and theatrical art for children of early, preschool and primary school age"



Development of creative abilities of children from two to three years old by means of puppet theater

Acquaintance with the author's program "Development of creative abilities of children by means of theatrical art". Playing puppet theater, children will be able to develop their creative abilities in a variety of activities: literature, music, theatrical art. The author's advice and recommendations will help your students develop memory, attention, thinking, imagination and perception. All this will make working with children an entertaining, exciting and rewarding experience. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Principles of work on a puppet show. Types of puppet theaters for children of the first junior group (from 2 to 3 years). Theater of folk toys, theater of mugs, theater of pictures on a flannelograph (production, examples of sketches). Theater puppet control system (general recommendations).


Table puppet theater and theatrical games for children from three to four years old

Every child is talented from the very beginning, and the theater will provide an opportunity to reveal and develop what is inherent in the baby from birth. The harmonious combination of puppet and dramatic art, music and the artistic word has a positive effect on the development of the child's personality. At the same time, the baby gets used to the idea that any manifestation of creativity finds support from peers and adults. nine0003

Questions for discussion. The program "Theatre - Creativity - Children" for children from 3 to 7 years old. Theater classes in kindergarten. Types of puppet theaters for children of the younger group (from 3 to 4 years). Table theater of clay toys (puppets, staging of the play "Cat, Rooster and Fox"). Table knitted theater (puppet making). Table theater on a plastic bottle (methods for making puppets). Theater puppet control system. Types of didactic materials needed for theatrical classes. nine0003


Horse puppet theater on a theatrical screen and theatrical games for children from four to five years old

We continue to get acquainted with the author's programs "Theater - Creativity - Children" and "Scenarios of theatrical puppet classes" for children from four to five years old. For each type of activity, specially selected texts have been developed that allow teachers to put on puppet and drama performances with children, to hold theatrical games that develop children's abilities for song, game and dance creativity. Playing out familiar fairy tales with riding puppets allows them to better understand the content of their favorite works, and gives them the opportunity to show creativity. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Riding puppet theater on a theatrical screen for children from 4 to 5 years old. Types of puppet theaters for children of the middle group (from 4 to 5 years). Theater puppet control system: general recommendations. Theater of spoons on a theatrical screen. Etude "I am a red fox." Theater of cooks. Materials for the manufacture of riding puppets of the theater of spoons, ladle on the theatrical screen. Methods for making puppets of the theater of ladle. Etudes "Bunny", "Horse" for riding puppets of the Theater of Ladles on the theatrical screen. Riding knitted dolls on gapit. Performance "Kukareku". Etude "Kisonka" for riding puppets on the gapite. Types of didactic materials needed for theatrical classes. nine0003


Outdoor puppet theater and theatrical games for children from five to six years old

The author will tell you how to conduct theater classes, leisure and entertainment with children from five to six years old in an interesting and exciting way. You will continue to get acquainted with the author's programs "Theatre - Creativity - Children" and "Scenarios of theatrical puppet classes" for this age. Students will learn how to conduct sketch work on the basics of puppetry, acting and dramatic art. You will get acquainted with the manufacturing methods and techniques for controlling floor puppets of various systems: puppets, live hand puppets, flip puppets, large floor puppets. The presented educational materials will help create your own puppet theater in kindergarten, make the life of pupils interesting and meaningful, filled with the joy of creativity. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Types of puppet theaters for children of the senior group (from 5 to 6 years old). Puppet theater of marionettes. Puppet theater with a "live hand". Theater of large floor puppets. Sketches for dolls with a “live hand”: “I am a little mouse”, “Nenila the pig”, “Hare”, “I am a fox”, “At the bear in the forest”, “The wrong dog bites”. Puppet show "Mitten". Materials for making puppets of the puppet theatre. Ways to control the puppets of the puppet theater. Sketches for puppets of the puppet theater: “I have, the cat”, “Mice and bread”. Puppet show "Cat Leopold". Large outdoor puppets. Methods for making large floor dolls. Types of didactic materials for theatrical classes. nine0003

Test 1


Horse puppet theater on a theater screen and theatrical games for children from six to seven years old with large floor puppets for children from six to seven years old. With the help of the puppet theater, psychological and pedagogical tasks are solved, the aesthetic education of children is carried out, and their creative potential is developed. In order to develop the imagination, fantasy and speech of children, we suggest choosing dolls from different fairy tales and inventing a new fairy tale with their participation, playing it out with the help of dolls of various systems. This allows pupils to more deeply assimilate the content of their favorite works, makes it possible to show creativity in various activities. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Types of puppet theaters for children of the preparatory group (from 6 to 7 years old). Reed puppet theatre. Theater "People-Dolls". Theater "People-Puppets" by the type of centaur. Materials, methods of making and controlling cane puppets. Etudes: “The wind blows in our face”, “I caught a pike in the river”, “I am a young princess”, “Snow Maiden”. "People-dolls" with a closed face. Materials, methods for making dolls, methods for controlling dolls of the "People-Dolls" system. Systems "People-dolls" with a closed and open face. Systems "People-dolls" by the type of centaur. Fragment of the play "The Snow Queen". Types of didactic materials needed for theatrical classes. nine0003


Puppet theater for children and adults

We continue to get acquainted with the author's program "Theatre - Creativity - Children".

Questions for discussion. Tales for children and adults. Journey to the country of Kuklyandiya with matryoshka Masha. List of educational premises and equipment necessary for the implementation of the program "Theatre - Creativity - Children". Etudes: "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Wolf and the Seven Kids", "The Mitten", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Moroz Ivanovich", "Resin Barrel Bull". Algorithm for compiling an educational program of additional education. Types of didactic materials. nine0003


Dramatization and theatrical games with elements of puppet theater for children from 3 to 5 years old

You will learn how to solve complex psychological and pedagogical problems with the help of dramatization. You will teach children to cope with life's difficulties, to be aware of the patterns of social relationships and the logic of human actions.

At the lecture, we develop self-esteem and self-control of the child. We teach children to switch attention, to differentiate movement. And puppets help us in this: walking sticks, human puppets, large floor puppets, shifting puppets, puppets, puppets with a living hand. For each type of activity, specially selected texts have been developed that allow teachers to put on puppet and drama performances with children, theatrical games with elements of a puppet theater. All this develops in children the ability to sing, play and dance creativity. Playing out familiar fairy tales with dolls of various systems allows them to more deeply absorb the content of their favorite works, and gives them the opportunity to show creativity. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Kinds of creative activity of children from 3 to 5 years old. Game creativity. Song creativity. Dance creativity. Improvisation on children's musical noise instruments. Table theater of clay toys "Zaikin's hut" for children of the second younger group. Types of basic theater skills for children from 3 to 5 years old. Theatrical game with elements of the Little Red Riding Hood puppet theater. Riding puppets on a shortened screen for children of the middle group. Stages of work on theatrical games with elements of puppet theater. Selection of musical accompaniment. Stages of work on the scenario of a theatrical game with elements of a puppet theater. nine0003


Theatrical games with elements of puppet theater for children of senior preschool age and primary school age

We consider the development of the creative potential of children of senior preschool age (from 5 to 7 years old) as an important way of expressing one's emotional state and realizing one's individuality by a child. You will get acquainted with theatrical classes, with puppets of various systems, with theatrical games with puppet theater elements intended for children of senior preschool age and children of primary school age. nine0003

Questions for discussion. Types of creative activities for children of senior preschool and primary school age. Game creativity. Song creativity. Dance creativity. Improvisation on children's musical noise instruments. Principles of work with children of senior preschool and primary school age.

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