Thursday, April 26, 2012

Play Out The Story

How do you get things ready for a day of imagination?
  • Do you pull out boxes of dress up clothing for your little ones to access and explore?  
  • Do you add props?  
  • Are there random items, or a common theme?  
  • Is there a setting, such as the ice cream shop, or the doctor's office?  
  • What typically gets acted out, fantasy (fairies, dragons, superheros), or reality (the supermarket, or doctor's office)?
As a child, I vividly remember dressing up about every other day in old over sized clothing, itchy wigs, and clunky high-heeled shoes.  I pranced around the play room in my outfit with my dolls, using plastic kitchen utensils to make imaginary food with my sister.  I don't remember having a particular agenda or goal.  There were bins of random items for us to choose from, and we made up scenarios as we played for hours.  As an adult, I was introduced to a form of imaginary play that was familiar, but never introduced to me in this particular way.  I observed a group of children one day being shown an area of materials that had been prepared in a specific way so they could play out the story.

Playing out the story simply means setting up play to reflect the different stages of whatever the scene is.  A simple example is washing baby dolls...
  1. A tub or bin with soapy water, sponges or washcloths, and 2-3 dolls 
  2. A stack of towels for drying
  3. Diapers and containers of powder
  4. Doll clothing
There are steps in everything we do.  When setting up for this type of play think about a set of instructions, or the order of a story, what happens first, second, third?  Then set up accordingly and your children can play out the story of going grocery shopping, eating at their favorite restaurant, going to the doctor, etc.  Preparing materials in this way is good preparation for an early literacy skill, story comprehension, and can also lead to narrative skills, being able to understand and tell the order of a story or stories.  

I ran across a GREAT example of playing out the story on a blog called The Good Long Road.  Check out the post Making something out of nothing #2: Library at home, and you'll see the steps this family takes when they go to the library, and their favorite coffee shop.  The author of this blog used materials she already had at home too, another plus!

Try out this method if you don't already and enjoy the story!

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