Sociodramatic play, also called “pretend play”, lets young children play different characters, act out stories and imaginary situations, and pretend to be in different places or eras. During dramatic play, children assign or accept roles, such as a fantasy role, like a knight in armour, or a familiar or real-world role, like grandma or the mailman. In any case, dramatic play involves breaking free of the limitations of reality and allows for natural learning.
Sociodramatic play typically involves:
- Developing and acting out roles
- Creating storylines
- Making up or improvising dialogue
- Interacting with their playmates
- Directing themselves or their playmates
There are two kinds of sociodramatic play:
- Structured play encourages children to work towards a predetermined outcome. The parent, guardian, or teacher creates a setting or a scenario for them to play into while the children get to choose and assign roles based on what’s available then work through the circumstances that arise within that setting.
- Unstructured play gives children the freedom to create their own scenarios and sets to the best of their abilities and the available materials with no predetermined outcome.
Parents, guardians, and educators can be involved in more ways than one during sociodramatic play depending on the learning intention of the play activity, and the quality of children’s interactions with each other.
Sociodramatic play’s benefits
- Language and movement – Sociodramatic play has tremendous potential as a teaching practice for learning language and movement, with children taking on various roles, acting out different scenarios, and delivering or improvising dialogue.
- Fine motor skills – When dressing dolls or moving toy cars around, sociodramatic play can help a child develop their develop fine motor skills through their ability to manipulate small or large objects.
- Cognitive skills – When young children use their imagination and creativity to construct various scenarios during sociodramatic play, their memory improves as they recall the finer details of the setting or event they’re recreating in addition to the dialogue and sequence of actions they must go through. A pretend shopping can help them hone their counting and sorting skills while playing with other children encourages them to use their communication skills to discuss common goals, express their intentions, and minimise conflict.
- Emotional development – Sociodramatic play can help children deal with situations that they might find frightening, such as a trip to the dentist. Acting out this scenario in a fun and safe environment can make the real thing less frightening for them.
- Imagination and creative thinking – Young children have near-limitless imaginations when it comes to playtime. Sociodramatic play allows them to recreate certain situations and events that they’ve seen or experienced. For example, your child might copy a scene from a movie or TV show they’d just seen. There may also be a personal element to the situations your child reenacts during pretend play, so don’t be surprised if they start acting out a detailed version of a domestic scene or a recent family event.
Encouraging and supporting your child’s sociodramatic play
You can encourage sociodramatic play by simply giving your child the time and space to create their own world, and by making props and other play materials like dolls, costumes, or wooden toy blocks readily available. Let them take the lead and sort through certain options by themselves.
Parents can also give their young children a strong foundation for their play ideas by talking to them about what they’re doing and listening to them without making any judgments. Letting your child explain how they would deal with a make-believe situation enables you to gauge their understanding of certain issues like cooperating with others, talking to strangers, or what they should do if they ever get lost. This helps you determine which areas your child might need more guidance or support.
Teachers Choice offers wooden blocks and other educational toys for sociodramatic play. Browse our store for high-quality wooden toys and more.