So why is play so beneficial? The answer is quite simple once you think about it. A play environment is stress free and without the worries of judgement and failures. Because of this, children feel more confident to explore new topics and make meaning of what they see around them.
For example, Abi may imitate an eye doctor in the classroom after a recent visit. The child has tapped into their background knowledge and confidently practices what she knows. She repeats what she has heard and speaks in a professional tone. She may look into her peers' eyes and ask them to read a letter board that she has created while covering one eye. All of this is important interaction with a new experience in her life!
Sociodramatic play easily ties into literacy due to the print rich environment that we live in. Students notice print and writing all around them such as lists, signs and menus. Naturally, they mimic those same things and interact with form, letters, punctuation etc.
A great way to further learning connected to curriculum in the classroom is to set up sociodramatic play areas in your classroom. These can even be done in the home. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like.
- Art Gallery: To supplement experiences with an art gallery such as demonstrations of art and visiting museums, rope off a corner of the classroom with plenty of wall space for hanging children's art. In the middle, place a shelf with children's sculptures. Include a stand for patrons to pay for tickets and pick up brochures (either real or made by the children). Nearby, have easels and small tables for artists to do work with plenty of materials. (ex. cash register, money, note cards for naming the artist, gallery maps, etc.)
- Some questions to explore: Who contributes to the workings of an art gallery? What do exhibit designers/tour guides/patrons/artists/custodians/museum shop workers/cashiers/ticket takers do? What materials and tools do they use to do their jobs? What print materials do they use? How are you using the art gallery to explore the artistic techniques you are learning at other times of the day?
- Bakery: Supplement a tour of a bakery and cooking activities done in the class with families and teachers with a table for baking. Include a shelf to display baked goods and a cash register stand with money. Include many baking materials such as cookie sheets, pie pans, pots, spoons, rolling pins etc. Some literacy items to include could be recipe books, note cards for recipes, and materials for labeling and pricing objects.
- Some questions to explore: What kind of jobs are in a bakery? What ingredients, equipment, and tools do bakers/cake decorators/cashiers need to do their work? What literacy materials do they use? What do people bake? How do people learn to bake?
If you would like to see a few videos of sociodramatic play in action, check out these videos here and here.