The Bakery – Supporting Children to Succeed in the Dramatic Play Center

Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith: Play just does so many things for children. When children are playing they learn social skills, they learn language, they exercise their large muscles, they create and they imagine, they
acquire abilities to kind of regulate their emotions. When children pretend, they tend to play
out things that they already know about. And so one thing that is very helpful to
children is to provide prior experiences; to actually give
children some background knowledge that they can base their pretend play on. Maureen: We read a nonfiction book about baking. When I asked them what they knew about baking, they kept on telling me, “You cook, you cook, you cook.” Teacher: “What are you making Mia?” Child: “Soup.” Teacher: “Soup? In the Bakery?” Child: “No.” Teacher: “No. I thought you were making cookies.” We talked about cooking is sometimes done on top of the stove, baking is usually done in the oven, that’s the difference between the two. So by the end of the week they realized
that a baker makes items like breads and cookies where a cook might make soup. Our dramatic play was a bakery this time and they needed a lot of guidance and focus, and we tried it with just pictures on the wall to help them understand these concepts of cooking and working together and whose job is what. The teacher really needed to be there during this week to support their self-regulation because they were having a hard time
taking turns, seeing someone else’s perspective on something. Teacher: “Remember she shared with you and now you’re sharing with Mia. All right Mia put those in the oven. And then she’s going to share with you.” Child: “Tiffany go there.” Teacher: “Well, say Tiffany excuse me please.” Child: “Tiffany excuse me, please.” Teacher: “I have to put my cookies in the oven.” Child: “I have to put my cookies in the oven.” Teacher: “See she moved for you, go ahead.” Dr. Jeffery Trawick-Smith: One important role that teachers can play when they’re interacting with children in play is to help peers to interact with one another, to help them to kind of have conversations to share their ideas, to collaborate on various play themes. Some children need support in that area. Maureen: They’re using this when they’re done with this particular cookie cutter then they’re going to give it to you, or we’ll use a timer, “here let’s set it three minutes.” Maureen: “Alright I’m going to set the timer. It says how many minutes?” Child: “Five.” Maureen: “It says three.” Child: “Three.” Maureen: After the first day of the teacher in there we were hoping that teacher could kind of come out a little bit into the rest of the classroom, and they just weren’t able to… Teacher: “Why don’t you ask her. Say Tiffany can I please use the measuring spoons?” Child: “Can I please use those?” Teacher: “No, why not Tiffany?” Child: “Cause I’m using them.” Teacher: “You’re using them? So why don’t you say ‘can I please use them when you’re finished?’” Maureen: And I know this was an area that they all want to be at and I wanted it to be successful for them cause there’s so much they can learn. It really needed all week long a teacher to be there to facilitate that kind of play. Teacher: “Well he can put it on the bottom shelf. Look there’s two shelves. See, put your cookies on the bottom shelf Max. Oh you had a hot mitt on. Alright, set your timer.” Maureen: Next week it’ll be out again, we’re
hoping that it won’t need so much teacher direction. Child: “Everyone you gotta come buy cookies… Look Cookies! Ms. Maureen there are cookies! Everyone you gotta come play!” Maureen: They were using a lot of symbolic imaginary play; they were asking for money. Child: “I need three dollars. Three dollars. No dollars. Thank you.” Maureen: And they were pretending to go in their pocket and pull out the money. I mean even though everything else was very realistic, those for one in the parts that was very
symbolic that they can use their imagination which is so important for
them to to use their brain and that higher level thinking.

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