Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teaching Roles at the Play Center

During each thematic unit in our classroom, we transform the pretend play center into a related place to play.  For example, earlier this year when we did a pizza a unit, it became a Pizza Hut.  

Last month we did a pet unit so the center was transformed into a Vet Clinic.  I made some modifications that I am excited to share, as we noticed our students were having a difficult time playing pretend and participating in the center appropriately.  To support their play, I added name tags for the different vet clinic jobs and roles.  On the front of the tag, there is a picture of my son playing the role and then on back it gives various tips for being that role.  

For instance, on the name tag that says "I am a vet.", I added play prompts like "I check the animals heart.", "I give them shots." and "I check the pets' ears and throats." On the name tag for the customer, I put prompts like "I bring in my cat or dog.", "I listen to the vet.", "I pay the receptionist.".  The receptionist's name tag says "I listen to the veterinarian.", "I answer the phone.", "I take money.", and "I book appointments.".

Front:  Photo of my son playing the role.

Back:  Prompts of the activities the role may perform.

These name tags are almost like functional power cards the students can use to support their play.  They have been very helpful to both students and staff because it helps them know the different roles in the center.  Each role also has a defined place to play as you can see in the pictures below.

The Veterinarian's Area
The Receptionist's Area: I use
toddler locks to make the
pretend kitchen items off limits

A basket of materials and
 pets for the customers to use. 
To support the children in learning how to play at the center initially, I had them sit in the center and watch some video modeling clips of my son and his friend playing in the center.

Also to support the children in keeping their vet play (or any other play) in the Pretend Play area, we have a peg board divider that serves as door on one side and place to hang costumes on the other.
The Back of Our Pretend Door
Our Pretend Door- it has a hook
to switch the "Stop! We're Closed"
 to "Yes, We're Open"

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