Preschool classrooms function best when organized into Montessori style learning centers. Learning centers are rotational play areas where children perform tasks related to specific content areas: math, reading, science, art, practical life, dramatic play or preschool dress-up areas. Homeschool parents, why not create learning centers in your child’s play room? Here’s how to organize Montessori preschool dramatic play, or preschool dress-up learning areas. mom designed an at-home dramatic play area.
Encourage young thespians. Dramatic play is the performing arts learning center. This is where costumes, puppets, theater stage and props are kept. This is where kids play dress-up in occupational uniforms, hats, masks, animal costumes, cartoon characters and others. This learning center doesn’t have to be extensive. Hang costumes and preschool dress-up clothes, hats, masks and accessories on hooks or coat racks.
Collect costumes. Go to secondhand stores and look for old Halloween costumes, uniquely patterned and brightly colored clothes, vintage clothing, costume jewelry, funky shoes, wigs and interesting hats. Stock dramatic play learning centers with uniforms, occupational accessories, hats and helmets. These are great for preschool dress-up. Keep an eye out for multicultural, historical costumes. Check for sales at opera companies, theaters and theater costumer sales. Ask senior family members and friends for homeschool contributions. Remember to wash and disinfect all secondhand costumes.
Make a collapsible cardboard stage for your homeschool. Get a portable ballet barre for dance. This can be taken down and stored easily. Make a puppet theater out of a large cardboard refrigerator box. Cut a window at child height. Hang a curtain on a long shoelace or piece of rope and staple it across the opening. To store, simply collapse the box. For full scale productions, a curtain draped across the room makes a great stage. Let kids improvise with on-hand props.
Design interchangeable scenery. Have kids color pictures depicting different backgrounds (home, forest, lake, city). Affix scenery to the inside back of the box using putty so the scenes can be changed. To make hanging backdrops (like those in real theaters), kids can draw pictures on white pillowcases, sheets or tablecloths. Attach shoelaces to each side and hand theater backdrops as you did the curtain (only across the back). Draw scenes on both sides so that the backdrop can be changed.
Make dramatic play learning centers portable. Store costumes in easily accessible tubs. Keep a few costumes on a small free-standing coat tree. Hang a hats, dress up clothes and accessories on it. You might also use coat hooks. Choose costumes that reflect homeschool unit, theme, season or subject.
Rotate dramatic play themes. Group dramatic play costumes and preschool dress-up accessories according to theme: animals, cowboy, pirate, fashion, Bible, occupations. Coordinate costumes with seasons and holidays. Match them to homeschool lesson plans. Around Labor Day, set out uniforms. Near Thanksgiving, pull out Native American costumes. You will have fond memories of the many impromptu performances your young actors put on for you.