Part 3 of 3 - Constructive and Dramatic Play
18 October 2017
In my first two articles in this preschool creativity series, I’ve shared that by purposefully making opportunities for your children to play, the more their creative skills like flexible thinking and problem solving, will have a chance to develop.
Here are the final two types of play, Constructive and Dramatic Play, and how you can make the most of them to support your preschooler’s creative development.
1. Constructive Play
During constructive play, children build, combine materials, or produce intricate structures. This type of play can occur with blocks, art materials, science experiences, and during indoor or outdoor play. In constructive play children make plans, collaborate with others on different construction ideas. Children develop oral language skills as they discuss and solve problems, adjusting their planning constructions. As children build, they use their creativity to decide what they will construct, what materials they will use, how to refine their project, or what to name the structure.
Construction play provides a meaningful way for children to think through possibilities, solve problems, create designs, and implement their ideas with concrete materials. Putting blocks together and building things encourages problem solving, critical thinking such as spatial awareness, balance, gravity and size and shape comparisons. All of these concepts are explained in my article, Support Your Child's Tinkering - It's Full STEAM Ahead!
How to Support your Child’s Constructive Play:
- Provide your little one with open ended building materials. These don’t need to be expensive block sets to encourage construction play. Any child safe, stackable materials works for construction play. Those plastic food storage containers of different sizes, with or without lids, can become very creative and imaginative constructions too!
- Clay or play dough is another good open-ended construction material. It is especially good in that your little one can make one thing out of it, smush it, then make something else. This reversibility is excellent for creativity because there are endless possibilities to the creative process with this type of material. You can make this open-ended material in your very own kitchen with our Super Simple Play Dough.
- Go outdoors and collect natural materials for construction play. Using natural, found materials encourages your little one’s environmental awareness, seeing things that can be used for creating. Our Experience Nature activity collection has lots of easy ideas to get your started.
- Our Constructing activity collection is a source for even more quick ideas on activities especially for construction play.
2. Creative Dramatics
This is different from symbolic and pretend play covered in the second article in this series, because this play is based on stories and literature. It involves things such as reading, telling, or watching stories that can inspire children’s creativity. Creative dramatics provides children a stage to act out their creative thoughts, experiment with role-playing and use their emerging language skills.
Using favorite stories, they can become a character, add sound effects, or act out a sequence of events. For example, “being” a little monkey and jumping up and down when you read Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed found here on Amazon, it's a creative dramatics experience even young toddlers will enjoy. This is a great way to give another dimension to favorite children’s books. And you can get into the action, acting out a character in the story, too! Acting out stories stimulates your little one’s imagination so much more so than passively watching stories on tv. Our article Tips for Reading to your Preschooler has more easy ways to enjoy and engage your young one's early literacy skills.
How to Support your child’s Creative Dramatics:
- Select a favorite story to dramatize, either from a book or one created from your child’s own imagination. Then, decide what character they will play. Be spontaneous! Don’t worry if your little one is following the story exactly. The point is to let them have their own interpretation, informally change the content, and respond in the moment. This allows your child to participate freely and confidently in ways that feel comfortable and enjoyable.
- Add some fun props or wear dress-up clothes for a costume if your child feels it is important for their story. Maybe a magic wand, or a pair of sunglasses. These types of items may help your little one get into character and enrich the story line.
- Creatively acting out a story like this is a fun activity for parents as well as children. Join in if your child asks you to be a part of the story. Magic happens when an adult and a child play together. There’s a joy and connection that takes place. A bond is formed, and memories will be made! We've created our Dramatic Play activity collection especially to support your child's ability to create their own stories.
By nature young children are playful. Capitalize on this and include all four types of play that I've covered in my creative series to encourage your child’s creative development. Then, read on in Yes, You are Creative, to get in touch with your own creative thinking. As always, I would love to hear all about it-- you can give us your feedback right here!
+ Inspiration/thanks goes to the artworks that Skilly-do's co-founder, Claire first remembers seeing as a preschooler: The German sculptress, Renée Sintenis’ Donkey, 1927 in the Detroit Institute of Art. Sintenis’ bronze sculpture shines because it’s an artwork that people are encouraged to touch. Its well-loved forehead is pictured here in detail by Steven Depolo.