Family Props for Make-Believe Play
These are materials to support children’s engagement in high-level make-believe play in early childhood classrooms and at home.
Pretend cooking begins in the family theme and carries forward through multiple themes. Do you have a good stock of pots, pans, cooking utensils to support play? Don’t forget how great it can be to wash all those pots and pans with a spray bottle, a little water and a rag!
Can you turn a bookcase top or table into an ironing board in one of your centers? Ironing clothes can be a soothing play action for many children… others can ask for their clothes to be ironed as they get dressed for work or school – leading to play interactions!
Is there a place you can hang a clothesline for hanging clothes “to dry”? Hanging up baby clothes clothes with clothespins is what moms, dads, stepmoms and stepdads, aunts, uncles and grandparents in families do – and sometimes even the children help out!
The buzzer goes off – the dryer is finished! Children open the cardboard box ‘door’ and take out the laundry. Then they carefully fold each piece and put in the laundry basket. It’s heavy – it might take two children to carry it! Playing laundry room is a lot more fun than you might realize!
Some teachers use a cardboard box with a small rod as a ‘closet’ and in the nursery, bedroom or laundry room, children hang up clothing as part of their play, and take it down to ‘get dressed’ for the next day! Ask families if they have some baby or toddler sized hangers and old clothes to contribute!
Are the clothes dry yet in the laundry room – did you hear the timer go off? Are the cookies done cooking? Is it time for clean up and bed? Adding timers in as props can support higher level make-believe play!
Who gets to push the buttons on the remote control? What show does 54 get – is there a sign posted to tell us? Is the pretend show too loud; not loud enough – do we need to pause to get a snack? Remote controls can be great for make-believe family room play themes!
Add some labels to identify the different ‘colors’ inside these and some paint brushes and all kinds of projects can be happening in the garage… painting a car, a bike, a table or chairs . . .
Calling the veterinarian’s office to see if they have an appointment – or answering the phone as the receptionist? Here’s a great smartphone with a built in chalkboard!
A sturdy wooden brush and comb for groomers to use (and can be used in bathroom in family theme, in nursery with babies…
A mirror over the ‘sink’ in the bathroom is important for looking in while pretending to brush teeth, shave, and brush hair. You can use foil too!
All you need are some dish towels, a small tub with a little water and a sponge or rag and the dishes will be clean in no time.
Is one of your family theme centers the back yard or garden? Here are all the tools needed for setting up a garden. Could you use felt to lay down the garden… add some felt vegetables… maybe it’ll turn into a farmer’s market for the grocery play theme!
A nice set of dishes for family meals in the kitchen… and later for serving in a restaurant or even at the deli in the grocery theme. Could the bowls become pet bowls later on?
One egg sunny side up! If more eggs are going to be ordered… how could you make eggs like these out of felt? Paper?
Spill in the kitchen – or living room? Here’s a set of props to solve story problems! Push brooms can be great for sweeping in the ‘garage’ or house… or cleaning up that spill in aisle 9!
Wash basins can serve all kinds of roles in make-believe play. In the family theme, they can be the kitchen sink – with just a few centimeters of water and a wet rag and some soap…they can be the wash basin for the baby in the bathroom, and later, they can be used in the groomers, doctor’s office, veterinarian’s office, grocery store to wash produce, restaurant for washing dishes, clearing tables.. in all kinds of way to support meaningful sensory play!
Shaving cream as a sensory material can be integrated in meaningful ways in multiple play themes – look – the baby has something on her face – we better give her a bath (or something on her clothes, better bring them to the laundry room!) It can be ‘frosting’ for bakers for cakes, used in the Groomers – what else could you do to integrate it in a meaningful way?