Your child will go to a place that allows him to pretend to be someone or something else.
Justin is looking out the window of his family room when he sees a black cat walking by. As the cat stops and comes up to the window, Justin begins to say, “Meow, meow.” Then Justin begins to bang on the window, which makes the cat run away. Justin runs out of the family room to his bedroom and opens his toy chest. He pulls out a cat costume he has from Halloween. Justin brings the cat suit to his mom so that she can help him put it on. Once Justin has the suit on, he gets on his hands and knees and begins to crawl back to the family room window saying, “Meow, meow.”
Justin loves to pretend to be something that he sees in his environment. Mom supports Justin’s imagination by letting him put on the cat suit and reenact being a cat. Mom can make this dramatic play opportunity even more fun if she also pretends to be a cat with Justin.
Dramatic play is when your child recreates the world of home through pretend play scenarios (e.g. pretends to sip warm tea from a cup at the dinner table).
Dramatic play supports the development of language and words as well as thinking skills when your child considers what he wants to be. Dramatic play also builds social skills as your child interacts with others.
Your child loves to engage in dramatic play experiences because it includes social interactions with you and his peers. Social interaction really starts at birth; however, during this time, your infant wanted to engage in role play only with you. Now he may want to include interactions with peers. Dramatic play is unique in that it includes imitation and can take place individually or in a social setting.
Make sure you provide a space and opportunities for dramatic play in your home. One example of how you can do this is by building a cave or tunnel for your child using boxes or sheets. You can take a sheet and simply lay it over the couch and loveseat or over four chairs. Your child will love to crawl under the sheet while pretending to be a bear in the woods saying, “Grrrr!”
Dramatic play does not have to occur in only one part of your home; it can take place anywhere (outside, kitchen area, bathtub, or the living room). The only requirement is that it should be spontaneous, safe, and fun. For extra fun, participate in pretend play with your child—a sure opportunity for laughter and bonding.
For your child, dramatic play will be brief; however, as your toddler matures, you will see him engage in longer dramatic play experiences with more details and accompanying language or even storytelling.
Toddlers love dramatic play. If you see your child mimicking a cat, pretend to be a cat, too. Scurry around the house trying to chase a mouse.