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Prop Box Ideas to Enhance Dramatic Play


by Cathy Abraham

THE BEACH
blankets picnic basket beach umbrella
sunglasses beach ball pretend suntan lotion
beach towel buckets and shovels shells
lawn chairs straw hats play picnic foods
Beach Boys music swimming caps surfboard
snorkels fins flip flops

FLOWER SHOP
plastic flowers watering can seeds
florist smock flower/garden magazines garden hats
small garden tools potting soil vases
garden gloves ribbon order book and pen
cash register/money phone plastic pots
styrofoam squares

RESTAURANT
tablecloth napkins dishes
tableware menus (made with food pics) order pads/pencils
sign for restaurant aprons hats
cash register trays play food

VETERINARIAN
stuffed animals cotton balls gauze
surgical masks pamphlets on animals plastic gloves
play money needleless syringes exam table
empty medicine bottles pet brushes white lab coat
pet carriers magnifying glass stethoscope

FIREFIGHTER
yellow rubber raincoats boots old vacuum hose
phone whistle fire hats
stepladder flashlight fire safety posters
walkie-talkies gloves baby dolls (to rescue)

PLUMBER
piping-all lengths,
widths, shapes, sizes
tools
toolboxes measuring devices spigots
plungers hoses/nozzles hardware store flyers
old shirt (with logo on pocket)

TOURIST/VACATION
suitcases "tickets" sunglasses
maps Hawaiian shirts "passports"
travelers checks/money postcards travel magazines
camera

BAKERY
fresh playdough measuring spoons rolling pins
aprons oven mitts cookie sheets
pictures of baked goods chef's hat muffin tins
cake pans mixing bowls spoons
cake decorators order pads "recipes"
cookie cutters flour shaker cupcake papers

POST OFFICE
envelopes postcards stamps (seals, stickers)
boxes or packages duffle bag junkmail
"mailbox" scale mailperson hat
stickers paper punch cash register
old blue shirt pens, pencils, paper

FISHING
boat (box) styrofoam packing "worms" net
tackle box sinkers/bobbers fishing hat
pole with string, magnets "fish" with magnets binoculars
fishing magazines camera thermos

CAMPING/FOREST RANGER
canteen flashlight "tent"
knapsack grill fake campfire
sticks with marshmallows binoculars small skillet
mosquito netting nature books food supplies
sleeping bags thermos fishing poles
fly swatter plastic ants small cooler
lawn furniture orange vests paper plates

HOUSE PAINTER
smocks paint brushes paint rollers
buckets of water (paint) rags paint trays
cap old shirts stepladder
paint color sample wheels

ASTRONAUT
helmet "airtank" earphones
globe "control panel" moonboots
flag "moonrocks" walkie-talkies
"rocketship" star decals "food" in plastic bags

OPTOMETRIST
eye chart pointer glasses (frames)
table mirror white lab coat glasses cases
wooden spoon (for covering
one eye to read chart)
pictures of eyes

JEWELRY STORE
Old jewelry (check for safety)-
necklaces, bracelets, rings,
clip-on earrings
cash register play money "display case"
jewelry boxes small mirrors

SHOE STORE
lots of shoes shoeboxes cash register
play money ruler or foot measurer shoe strings
shoe horn sacks pictures of shoes
hook w/service numbers shoe polish (empty) small chairs
full-length mirror order pad extra shoelaces

DOCTOR/NURSE
paper nurse's hats surgical masks/booties stethoscope
cotton balls bandaids telephone
scale white aprons or labcoat small flashlight
hot water bottle gauze rubber gloves
dolls/doll's beds syringes (w/out needles) empty medicine bottles
hospital "gown" medical bag x-rays
thermometer RX pad/files old crutches (small)

WEDDING
white dresses veil or lace curtain bride magazines
wedding "cake" rings bowties
flowers paper to make invites white dress-up shoes
suit decorations black clergy "robe"
wedding pictures camera "just married" sign

HAIR STYLIST
plastic combs mirrors hairpins
rollers spray bottles barrettes
appointment book plastic cape brushes
hair dryer (with cord cut off) magazines play money
curling iron (with cord cut off) empty shampoo bottles ribbons
posters of hair styles telephone hair clips
wigs/wig heads towels headbands
**Note: things used on hair must be sanitized after use by children

GAS STATION/AUTO MECHANIC
tools/toolbox steering wheels play money
workclothes "oil" cans "gas" hose
cash register squeegee/bucket poster w/prices
tire gauge car keys funnel (for oil)
rags tire pump auto supply catalog
gas can (new) used/washed or new auto parts

OFFICE WORKER
desk nameplate old forms/files typewriter
briefcase memo pad phones/phone books
paper/pens/pencils calculator stamps
old computer stapler paperclips
junk mail pen holder rolodex

POLICE OFFICER
pad for writing tickets small clipboard police hat
stop signs license plates blue shirt
walkie-talkie badge 911 signs
black belt steering wheel whistle (siren)

GROCERY STORE
play food checkout area egg cartons
paper bags cash register play money
sale flyers grocery cart/basket aprons
purses/wallets plastic fruit/vegetables coupons

CARWASH
tricycles buckets water
sponges squeegees hose
carwash signs play money

SCHOOL
chalkboard/chalk notebooks pencils/paper
books backpack lunchbox
chairs teacher's "desk" flag

PIZZA PARLOR
discarded pizza boxes play money order pad
phones bakery aprons cash register
"stove" play pizza cutter prep area
cardboard circles (pizzas)
with felt on one side
felt circles (green peppers,
mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, olives)

BANK
play money deposit slips/checks bankbooks
adding machine/calculator teller window cash box
rubber stamps/inkpads paper/pens coin rolls

ICE CREAM PARLOT
ice cream scoops paper "cones" empty ice cream tubs
play money/cash register apron and hat order pads/pencils
wipe-off board "menu" empty whipped cream spray cans


Other prop box ideas:

Science Lab
New Baby
Farmer
Carpender
Music Store
Pilot
Magician
Book Store
Clothing Store
Seamstress
Dentist
Pet Shop
Travel Agency
The Zoo
Royalty Play
Rancher
Hat Shop
Repair Shop
Cider Mill
Bear Cave
Dancer
Reporter
Train Conductor
Maid
Telephone Repairman
Library
Picnic
Sporting Goods Store
Fast Food Drive-thru
Birthday Party
Movie Theater
Window washer
The Circus
Weatherman
Photography Studio
Costume Shop

Tips for Teachers:

- Try to get computer paper boxes donated to store items between use. Label neatly with contents of box.
- Not all prop items or ideas are appropriate for all ages - always consider safety first.
- Rotate these items frequently and you will prevent boredom (and behavioral problems due to boredom) in your classroom.
- Parents are a great resource for prop box item donations.
- Do not allow stereotyping based on sex. All children should be allowed to explore any 'role' they choose.
- Share prop boxes and resources throughout the center.
- View dramatic play and prop box enrichments as opportunities to build upon skills and learn concepts.

I learn through dramatic play! When I am dressing up or playing in the Dramatic Play Area, I try on various roles to help me process and understand my world. I am developing my social skills and ability to play with others, while using my imagination and being creative.

I Can!
By Peter and Katie Stewart

I can use my imagination
To set a fantasy free
I can perform and be someone else
The inspiration comes from me!

There are places I'll explore
That I may never get to see.
There are people I can play
Who I may never get to be.
Not tomorrow, but today
I can through dramatic play!

I can be a pirate
With my dirty, strong mates.
Through my spyglass I look for treasure
As I sail the seas and straights.

I can be a princess
Beautiful and fair
The only entrance to my tower
Is to climb up my long hair.
I can be a fairy
And know how to fly
I'll wear a dress made of petals
Drink honey and never cry.

I can be a dish
And run away with a spoon.
Or a genie in a lamp
Or ride a unicorn past the moon.
I can dance around a tribal fire
Or daintily sip my tea.
Or I can make people cry, clap, and laugh
The inspiration comes from me.

And after I've been every thing
I can possibly pretend to be
I can realize how special
It is to be me!


About the Author:
Cathy Abraham has worked in the early childhood field for 25 years. She is currently a consultant, curriculum writer and trainer. Cathy can be reached at childcarediva@aol.com. .



If you have any educational articles, homeschooling techniques, activities for elementary aged children, parenting resources, hobbies/crafts, money-saving ideas, or family time activities, please submit them and we will be posting them soon! We would love to hear from you!



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