Role play is a very important part of a child’s education. The imagination is a powerful tool which as we know is innate in some children but needs encouraging in others. It is important that preschools provide children with the opportunity to develop their imagination. In order to accomplish this they have to equip the children with spaces, scenarios, props and the support they need to explore their real life or imaginary worlds. Imaginative play not only aids intellectual development but also improves children’s social skills and their creativity. In addition it gives children a chance to play out events that they have observed or experienced in real life.
Role play and everyday scenarios.
Using the home as a setting for role play works extremely well with children as the home plays an important in each young child’s life. Setting up the role-play corner as a house may sound simple enough but unfortunately in lots of preschool certain things are over looked. You need to include all the tools needed for the role play to take place. If you wish to focus on hygiene you need to include the following props – a cloth, washing up bottle tea towel, bin, sink or if you wanted them to focus on health and safety you need to get them to use oven gloves, trays, timers and towels.
Role plays and imagined worlds.
These role plays take place in places where the children are very unlikely to visit such as the moon or under the sea and they can meet characters that they are very unlikely to meet such as a Dragon or a talking bear.
An example of a role playing story that I find works well with young child is “The Hungry Tree”.
This is an excellent introduction to improvisation as the children are free to explore their imaginations. It also helps with their co-ordination skills.
Instructions: The teacher tells the children the following story and they have to improvise the movements in the story. The teacher gets the children to imagine they are an adventurer who wants to go on an adventure. They have to pack up their bags. The teacher asks what they need in the bags. Children’s answers are usually for example water, sandwiches, sun cream, and sunglasses and so on. The children mime putting all these essentials into their bag and then mime all the actions in the adventure below. The teacher says imagine you are walking quickly because you are so happy to be on your adventure. You see a mountain and decide you should climb it. The sun is getting hotter and hotter and you are getting tired. You get very, very tired. You wipe your brow to show how tired you are. You begin to climb slower and slower. You are very thirsty. You take out your water and take a drink. You put it back in your bag and climb the rest of the way up the mountain. Eventually you get to the top. You are exhausted, very hot and very hungry. You decide it is time for your picnic. You see a lovely tree and you go and sit under its shade. You eat your picnic and go for a nap. Then suddenly you wake up and see the tree moving towards you. The tree grabs you and you realise it is a very hungry tree and wants to eat you. You scream. You struggle. You fight the branches but you are getting weaker and weaker. Then suddenly the tree stops fighting for a moment. You get your chance to escape. You quickly grab your bag, and run back down the mountain. You get to the end and you don’t stop in case the hungry tree is running after you. You run all the way home, lock all the doors and hide under the table.
In settings where both of these types of role plays are offered, the play which develops is deeper, more complex and more intense, giving the children richer experiences. Allowing children to lose themselves in role play engages them in play that is purposeful and produces such outcomes as sharing, turn taking, co-operation, improving hand eye skills and develops their vocabulary. Time for Role Play is Vital.