This welcoming housekeeping area belongs to Cheryl V.
The Dramatic Play area provides many opportunities for children to practice "Life Skills". Children learn about every day life in this space. They learn by exploring the items adults use on a daily basis, learn about empathy and nurturing while caring for dolls, and learn about the world around them by pretending to be community helpers, and exploring the roles of these important people during dress-Up play.
Creating space for dramatic play
As with any learning space, you'll want to scope out how much room you have to dedicate to this area in your home. This is an active area, so you may want place it in an area away from your reading area, or other designated quiet spaces.
This well laid out space belongs to Emily R.
In this space you'll want to provide a variety of accessible dramatic play materials for all ages, include materials that represent diversity, make sure your furniture and storage in this area allows children to access items independently, and provide print rich materials: such as cookbooks, travel brochures, maps, etc.
Make sure you make time to participate in pretend play activities (shadowing the younger children), facilitate new dramatic play opportunities, and rotate your items often.
Tips for small spaces
If you are short on space, or don't have a dedicated space consider a portable kitchen, or carve out some room in your own kitchen where children can play beside, and model you. Check out some of these DIY options, or small space options if space is limited.
still short on space? Bring the pretend play outside outside-you can always create opportunities for dramatic play in your outdoor space.
Another small space alternative is choosing pieces that can be easily transformed into new specialty dramatic play area, such as this Melissa & Doug Market-see different examples of how this market can be transformed in your space.
The main component of the dramatic play space is your housekeeping area. The housekeeping area consists of items that children can find around their homes, and opportunities to practice jobs around the home. The basics of this space are a play kitchen, a child sized table & chair set, a doll area, and a place for dress up.
So many fun pieces in this space that belongs to Natasha K. of Red River Early Learning
Provide young Children the opportunity to practice using the tools, and take on the jobs that the adults in their lives do! They can learn to clean and take care of their home in this space. You can add: child sized brooms, dust pans, a vacuum, rags, sponges, feather dusters, washer & dryer sets, and even child size ironing boards and pretend irons.
Cheryl V. provides many opportunities for young children to take on adult roles!
Home maintenance is also an important part of caring for a home. Children love to model adults fixing and building things. For this space you can also include: A work bench, parts for loose play, tools, tool bags, Books about tools, Hard Hats and other Construction Dress Up items.
Props to add to your housekeeping area
Doll Play Area
Children are learning about Self Care and empathy in the dramatic play space. To enhance your area you should add items that allow children to care for babies. Some items to add to this space are: A diverse variety of dolls, doll accessories (doll clothes, cribs. strollers, changing areas), and inclusion items such as wheel chairs and walkers. You can also add books about babies, and photos of babies to this space.
Such a great space to learn about taking care of babies at Julie's Childcare
The dramatic play area should also allow children the opportunity to pretend to be adults, babies, and experience being people in their community, or animals they are learning about. In addition to adult coats, and dresses, you can also add a variety of costumes and accessories for dress-up play. You can include career multicultural, and pretend character items, as well.
When creating this space make sure the dress up items are accessible and easy to put away. Most young children are successful with hanging items back up on hooks, or placing them in bins. Be sure to hang a mirror near this space for children to see themselves.
Amanda W. provides many opportunities to dress up at Tykes n Tots Daycare
Specialty dramatic play
A specialty dramatic play space allows children to take on the roles of people in their community. It also allows them to "visit" places in their community, and try out new experiences.
Exploring a multicultural feast at Cheryl V.'s
Some examples of specialty dramatic play ideas include:
Restaurants: Italian restaurant, Chinese restaurant, sandwich shop, coffee shop
Stores: grocery store , shoe store , flower shop.
Community services: post office, library, school, fire station
Experiences: camping, a trip to the beauty parlor, a trip to the beach
A camping experience at Cheryl V.'s
You can either rotate out your existing housekeeping area into a specialty dramatic space, or create one elsewhere in your home as a temporary learning space. The materials you use to create these specialty spaces can be stored in boxes and brought into your space as the children are interested, or as you change out to a new theme.
Fun market play at Dina C.'s
Add items to your space that encourage Literacy-such as signs, labels, cook books, books about the homes other people live in, and baby books. When you re-create store you can include: Play Money, Purses, Wallets, a Cash Register, Paper Bags, Pens & Paper for writing lists, Play Food, Shopping Carts or baskets, and a Pretend Scale.
Taking on the job of being a veterinarian at Cheryl V.'s
Allow children to take ownership of their own space, and create some of their own specialty spaces. Don't always "set up" all of the materials, instead you can facilitate by asking them what they need. You can invite them to decorate their own spaces by giving them a box of decor that they can use to spruce up their home space for the holidays, or a give them a box of props that they can use to create their own specialty spaces.
Before you purchase furniture for your space, consider using items you have on hand or up-cycle a piece of furniture! An entertainment center, a low shelf on it's side or recycled materials can all be used to create to create something new for this space.
Julie K. of Julie's Childcare transformed this play kitchen into a veterinarian play space for the kids at
Many items can be made from recycled materials for this space-Check out this post for Free and DIY ideas for your dramatic play space.
Cardboard furniture created by Cheryl V.
When purchasing new furniture be sure to consider..
Consider longevity. Select an item that can withstand a lot of use. Check the doors to make sure they are easy to open and close. You can find commercial grade furniture at childcare supply stores such as discount school supply, and lakeshore learning.
Sturdy furniture with plenty of room for materials at Traci G's.
If you are looking for a smaller play kitchen you may want to consider visiting IKEA, or purchasing one on Amazon. Be sure to check craigslist, and other on-line groups for childcare centers that closing, or selling their furniture.
This IKEA kitchen at Tykes n Tots Daycare is a great space saving option, and the TROFAST storage unit provides tons of storage for your pretend play materials.
Pay close attention to the amount of storage space in your play kitchen. Do the pieces you are selecting have enough room to store pots & pans, play food, and plates? It may be necessary to add a n extra storage unit to this space to hold all of your materials.
Before you buy materials for this space, be sure to look around your home. Many items can be made from recycled materials or can be made for this space-Check out this post for Free and DIY ideas for this space.
Amanda W. of Tykes n Tots Daycare sets out loose parts for the children to use with this open ended market stand.
Children love to cook with loose parts, and even create their own materials for this space from paper, felt and and recycled materials.
Cheryl V. making pizza's from felt
Whenever possible try to include "real" housekeeping items in your space (check out my DIY tutorial on how to make a child sized mop for $1). You can pick up many items at your dollar store, yard sales, thrifts stores, or from your clients. Be sure to hang a list letting your families know your plans-they may have items to donate!
As always, check your items to make sure they are safe by enough for the youngest mobile child in your care. Don't forget to cutting off cords, and removing loose parts .
Storing & Rotating materials
Store materials in containers that are easy to access. Labeling storage bins makes it easier for young children to put items away. Take a less is more and only add a limited amount of items to the space-and adding more if you find that children need additional materials .
Tasha H. labeled her bins to make it easy for children to sort the items.
Remember this space doesn't need to be large. Providing the children with a box of dress up clothes, or cooking supplies allows them to use their imagination to create their own pretend play fun.
View more dramatic play spaces!
I hope you have picked up some new ideas, and tips to make your dramatic play space a great space for children to explore!
Shop my Dramatic Play Props
Dramatic Play Pie Stand Set
*Note: Want access to ALL of my Printables? Find out how you can purchase a membership to access this set and all of my other printables
This 59-Page Pie Stand Dramatic Play set includes everything you'll need for your Pie Stand. From all of your pie fixings, to Pie Stand Accessories. Use this set to create laminated paper pie making pieces, felt pies, or even Play Dough Pie Making Mats.
Choose to print from the following 3 sizes of Pies: Small (4 pies to a sheet), Medium (2 pies to a sheet), and Large (one pie to a sheet).
The following pie fixings are included for each size:
Pre-made Crust (Tin & Bottom Crust Combined)
3-Top Crusts: Regular, Lattice, and Whipped
Also Includes the following Pie Stand Accessories:
Pie Order Form
"Pie Stand" Sign
"Apple Pie Stand" Sign
"Pumpkin Pie Stand" Sign
Pie Stand Open & Closed Signs
Pie Flavors Sign
6 Recipe Cards
Pie Making Recipe Book Binder Cover
11 Ingredient Cards + 1 Blank
4-Pie Making Word Wall Cards
This download Single use only.
Please do not make copies or share with other people.
This is only for Personal/non-commercial use.
All Printables are copyrighted. This download may not be used to create items for sale or share.
Pet Clinic/Veterinarian Dramatic Play Pack-Digital Download
Before you buy! Want access to ALL of my printables (including this pack)? Join the Daycare Spaces and Ideas Printables Club!
This 17-page Dramatic Play pack is perfect to compliment your Veterinarian themed dramatic play area. This Pet Clinic Pack includes the following printables:
*Welcome to the Pet Clinic Sign
*Pet Clinic Form
*Waiting Area/X-Ray Signs
*Exam Area/Surgery Area Signs
*Supply Labels: Bandages, X-Rays, Medical Supplies & Medicine
*A "Veterinarians hard at work" Poster showing real images of Veterinarians
* 7-Xray Images: (Bird, Fish, Guinea Pig, Turtle, Rabbit, Dog Paws, and a Cat Head)
*Resource Page with links to additional resources
News Station Dramatic Play Pack-Digital Download
This 19-page pack includes the following pages:
News Channel Sign
Weather Station Sign
Sports News Sign
News of the Day Sign
Traffic Report Sign
News of the Day Headline
Weather around the World Headline
Sports of the Day Headline
On Air/Live News Sign
This Weeks Weather Forecast Chart
US Weather Map
News Station Job word wall cards
Things around the Station Word Wall cards
Recycling Center Dramatic Play Pack-Digital Download
Want access to all of my printables (including this pack)? Find out about how you can become a Pre-K printables club member here!
This 13-Page Dramatic Play Pack includes the following pages:
Welcome to the recycling center
Recycle Glass/Recycle Metal Signs
Recycle Plastic/Recycle Paper Signs
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle Poster
Glass, Paper, Metal, Plastic Bin Signs
Compost Area/Watch out for trucks sign
Now Hiring Sanitation Workers Poster
Redemption Rates Poster
Word Wall Cards
Movie Theater Dramatic Play and Activity Pack
Save even more with Pre-K Printables Club Membership
Inside this 31 Dramatic Play & activity pack you will find:
You'll also find the following activities:
Movie Theater Ticket Color Matching
Movie Theater Count and Clip Cards
Popcorn Counting Mats 1-10
TOS, Directions and Graphics Credit
Take a closer look at how to set this up!
Hot Chocolate Dramatic Play Pack
Transform your dramatic play area into a hot chocolate stand! This dramatic play printable pack includes the following printable props:
Hot Chocolate Stand Sign
Open and Closed Sign
Order Here Sign
Hot Chocolate Stand Punch Card
Tent Stand Labels (hot chocolate, marshmallows, candy canes, cookies)
Suggested props,TOS, Graphics Credit
Take a closer look at this pack in action!
North Pole Dramatic Play Pack
Easily transform your dramatic play space into the the North pole with this 36 page dramatic play pack! You will find all of the signs and labels you need to create Santa's Workshop, A North Pole Bakery and North Pole Mail Center this holiday season.
Inside this pack you will find:
Welcome to the North Pole Sign
North Pole Chores Checklist
Welcome to Santa's Workshop Sign
Workshop Open/Closed Signs
Gift Wrapping Station Sign
Toy Making Station Sign
2 pages of toy making and wrapping supply labels
Toy Request Form (2 sizes, Color and B&W)
Welcome to the North Pole Bakery Sign
Bakery Open and Closed Signs
Baking Station Sign
Decorating Station Sign
2 pages of baking supply labels
5 pages of printable treats (Christmas Cookies, Gingerbread Men, and House)
Welcome to the Mail Center Sign
Mail Center Open and Closed Signs
4 Toy Request Letters
Open and Closed Sign
North Pole Poster
Suggested items to add to your space
TOS, Graphics Credit
Save more with a Pre-K Printables Club Membership! Get unlimited access to all of the Daycare Spaces and Ideas printable products!
Flower Shop Dramatic Play Pack
Kids love to pretend they're florists! This 14-page dramatic play pack includes all of the signs, and printable props you'll need to set up your pretend play flower shop.
Save more with a Pre-K Printables Club Membership!
Inside this pack you will find:
Welcome to the Flower Shop Sign
Labels (Tissue Paper, Vases, Flower Pots, Bouquets)
Same Day Delivery Sign
Small Medium Large Sign
The Florist is Open/Closed Sign
Sample Arrangements Poster
Flower Labels (Carnation, Dahlia, Daffodil, Tulip, Rose, Sunflower, Daisy, Lily)
Flower Prices Poster Blank Prices
Flower Prices Poster-Price Sheet
Fresh Flowers Sign
Color Flowers Labels (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Purple, White)
Also includes: Directions, Suggested Props to add, TOS & Graphics Credit
Post Office Dramatic Play Pack
Easily Create a Post Office Dramatic Play theme with this pack of pretend play props.
Inside this pack you'll find the following printable signs:
Post Office Word Wall Cards
Welcome to the Post Office Sign
Postage Fees Sign
Shipping Supplies Sign
Sorting Packages Sign
Sorting Mail Sign
Delivering Mail Sign
Collecting Mail Sign
Labels: Stamps, Scale, Boxes, Envelopes
Please wait in line Sign
Mail Truck Parking Sign
Cover, TOS, Graphics Credit, Directions/Suggested items to add to your space
Want access to ALL of my printable products? Save even more with a Pre-K Printables Club Membership!
Dentist Dramatic Play Pack
This Dentist Dramatic Play pack includes all kinds of printable props to compliment your Dental Health Theme.
Inside this 17-pack pack you will find:
Welcome to the Dentist Sign
Patient Information Form
Open & Closed Sign Signs
X-Ray & Exam Room Signs
Waiting Area & Front Desk Signs
Dentists Hard at Work Poster with real images of Dentists
Labels: Toothbrushes, Floss, Toothpaste and Dentist Tools
A Pretend X-Ray of a Tooth
A Tooth Poster showing Healthy Tooth, Cavity, Dental Implants & Dentures
A Tooth Chart (Showing the insides of the tooth)
Poster showing items that can be found at the Dentist
3 pages of Dentist related word wall cards
Links to resources to compliment this pack
You might also like:
Dental Health Activity Pack
A Pre-K Printables Club Membership for unlimited access to ALL of my products!
Sandwich Shop Dramatic Play Pack
Are you ready to transform your Dramatic Play space into a Sandwich Shop? This pretend play pack includes all of the printable props you'll need to transform your dramatic play area into a Sandwich Shop or Deli.
In addition to sandwich fixings, this set also includes order forms, signs and labels.
This 24-Page Dramatic Play Pack includes the following pages:
Welcome to the Sandwich Shop Sign
At the Sandwich Shop Poster (with real images)
Sandwich Fixings Labels (3 pages)
Restaurant Job Cards
Please Order Here Sign & Blank Sign for you to customize
Open & Closed Sign
Sandwich Order Form Full Page
Sandwich Order Forms half page
9 pages of printable Sandwich fixings
Are you new to creating learning spaces in your home child care program? or maybe you are ready to spruce up your spaces for this upcoming school year? I've got the challenge for you!
Join me in our FB community for the next 6 weeks as I help you make improvements to the following learning spaces:
Week 1 (7/16) : Dramatic Play Space
Week 2 (7/23): Reading Space
Week 3 (7/30): Art & Writing Space
Week 4 (8/6): Construction/Building Space
Week 5 (8/13): Music & Movement Space
Week 6 (8/20): Science & Nature
How does it work?
Each Monday during the challenge I'll suggest low cost items you can add to the learning space we are focusing on, give tips on how to create these learning spaces in your program, and share inspiring photos from our community to inspire you!
How can you participate?
Participation is simple!
1. First make sure you've joined our FB group where I am hosting the challenge.
2. Set aside time during your week to commit to working on improving your learning spaces.
3.Take a few minutes each week to fill out your learning spaces worksheet. These worksheets have been designed to keep you focused on your improvement goals for each space-so when it comes time to do the heavy lifting (on the weekends and after work) you won't get side tracked.
4. Take some time to share your before and after photos in our FB group, share about your progress, get help, and support the other participants.
The big prize is ending up with a learning space you love, but to sweeten the deal we will have a weekly giveaway ever Friday during the challenge. Entering is easy! Everyone who shares a photo of their learning space (related to the challenge week) will be entered to win.
Before we get started
Creating learning spaces for a home based childcare program can have challenges. Some of the common challenges are dealing with limited space, and managing materials for mixed aged groups.
Throughout this challenge I hope to provide you with helpful tips to conquer some of these common areas of concern for many providers!
Let's get started
Download a free copy of the Learning Spaces worksheets!
Learning Spaces Worksheets
Join us starting 7/16 as we start our 6-week learning spaces challenge!
Use these free worksheets to help you design/improve the following learning spaces:
Week 1 (7/16) : Dramatic Play Space
Week 2 (7/23): Reading Space
Week 3 (7/30): Art & Writing Space
Week 4 (8/6): Construction/Building Space
Week 5 (8/13): Music & Movement Space
Week 6 (8/20): Science & Nature
Create goals, use the checklist, and create a plan for updating your spaces!
Welcome to my Provider Spotlight series. Join me as I feature childcare providers from our FB Community. Throughout this series you will have an opportunity to get to know a little more about our members, as well as explore unique childcare programs across the U.S and in other countries.
I'd like for you to meet...
Cheryl Vargas of Cherie's Learning Tree! She has been a member of our community for almost 2 years now, and can be found supporting our members and sharing her wonderful light-filled learning spaces, which are full of an assortment of open ended toys.
Cheryl has developed amazing themed dramatic play spaces over the years-many of which have been featured on the site-see some of them here!
Let's get to know her more.....
How long have you been a provider, and why did you become one?
I have been a licensed family child care provider for a little over 3 years. Before that I was nanny for about a year, and before that I was an accredited center teacher. As a lead preschool teacher I worked at a high-risk, inner-city center. As an infant teacher I completed my practicum for my A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Development. I miss working with babies a lot sometimes! Meeting the needs of a variety of family backgrounds from different communities, different ages and playing different roles in relationships with parents has helped me grow in many ways. My education really gave me a strong foundation and my experiences with families and children has helped me build my identity as a child care provider- which is always evolving and changing.
I was in business management when I switched my major. My dad was a firefighter, and he used to always tell me "Do what you love!" He really convinced me I could be anything I wanted to be and I still believe him. There were events in my life that made me ask myself how I wanted to spend a good portion of my life, since a career takes much of it. I looked deep and thought ,
"I just want to spend it with children".
What is the philosophy of your child care program?
Our children gradually shift away from the me-centered understanding of their world and learn they are part of a community. They become problem solvers, communicators, good friends, helpers and gain healthy self-esteem. Self-help skills, self-regulation skills, joyful creative thinking, and an inquiring mind with a love of learning is what they build toward every day. I even help them learn a little grit, some clear boundaries, and how to communicate those boundaries- which is very necessary to navigate their worlds.
I am still working on our program philosophy- still growing, reflecting, making changes. Thankfully there are many guiding tools out there from many amazing, wonderful professionals that are there to help early childhood educators. I borrow ideas and approaches from many theorists, many places. Integration of those ideas mixed in with lots of inspiration is what you might see materialize in our environment and activities.
What is your favorite thing about being a childcare provider?
The experiences of observing children during my mindful moments. The sounds of their laughter, their tiny inquiring voices, their little arms when they hug me! When they tell me they love me it makes my heart happy. I love seeing their amazing creations, am awed by their pro-social skills. I love my amazing, invested, supportive families.
What makes your program unique?
I think what makes programs unique are the providers! Each of us has different gifts to offer the children, and all of us have the capacity to use our work to grow in every way as human beings.
Passion drives me. I think about the daycare, dream about it, all the time. It is the season of my life right now. I probably do not have enough work/life balance but I feel compelled to keep doing better and growing as a provider. I am not afraid to take my values and strengths and apply them to my program. Communication is very, very important to me.
I think what makes my program unique is also my environment. I love natural light, mixing up the layout and changing out the toys frequently. I have a playroom dedicated to the daycare, a sunroom and a living area that transforms into many functional spaces. There are toys that require thought, problem solving, cooperation and imaginative play.
What advice would you give a new provider?
The first couple years are the most difficult. You will benefit from a network of mentors and can find lots of seasoned providers willing to help you along your way online. Having boundaries is very important! Keep revising your contract and policies. Behavioral guidance training and reading will take you far. Everything you invest into your growth will return to reward you.
Give yourself credit. Take care of yourself. It's okay to take pride in your work, even when others do not value it, because there will be those times. Set high standards for yourself and your daycare families. Communicate- positively. If you don't know how to respond to a parent or child, say "I am going to think about this some more". Journal! Things will get easier, you will learn new tools to deal with many situations. You will become stronger, more patient, more able to experience joyful moments with your littles, and that is what this is all about!
A big thank you..
I want to extend a big thank you to Cheryl Vargas for sharing her wonderful program with our readers! Be sure to swing by Cherie's Learning Tree on FB or her Website to see more of the amazing things she's created for here program!
Join my FREE FB Community to connect with other providers like Cheryl,
and share your activities, and learning spaces with others!
Thanks for stopping by! I'm Melissa. On this site you will find resources to save you time, inspiration to grow your childcare business, and resources to meet the ever changing developmental needs of the children in your care. Click here to learn more about Daycare Spaces & Ideas
Let me help you save time!
Join the Pre-K Printables Club for unlimited access to all of my printable activities !
Pre-K Printable Club Lifetime Membership
Save money with a LIFETIME Pre-K Printables Club membership! Just a one-time fee to join, no annual or reoccurring charges.
Pre-K Printables Club Members get access to the complete Library of Daycare Spaces and Ideas printable activities, games and products for your business!
All members are set up with their own access to access the member area to print & download my products as often, and whenever they need them.
Choose from over 1,000 individual activities covering over 52 Thematic Themes to meet the interests of all the children in your care.
Your One-Time Membership Fee Includes
**Please allow up to 72 hours for your account to be set up and your access information mailed to you.
Join the Pre-K Printables Club Today!
Shop my Products