Creative Role Play Ideas For Kids
Role play is a common form of play among children, serving as an excellent learning opportunity and benefiting your child’s development. Here are some innovative role play ideas for your child.
By Amrita Gracias
“Everything you can imagine is real.” - Pablo Picasso
Maya is ready to begin her work for the day. She lays out hair accessories, combs, brushes and a little spray bottle of water on the dressing table. She puts on an apron, makes sure the mirror is clean and sets up a comfortable chair so that her client can enjoy getting her hair done this morning. “Ma, come, I’m ready! I’m going to comb and style your hair today!”, she says enthusiastically. Seven-year-old Maya is playing the role of a hairstylist today and who better than her mother to participate in the role play, sitting in as a client!
Role play or pretend play is not an uncommon form of play among children. In fact, it can be described in some ways as a form of learning – learning by observing, imagining and doing. Educationists and researchers now consider role play an important aspect of learning and development.
Role play can be described as when a child takes on the role of someone or something else while indulging in play-related activities. It can be of various types – fantasy (fairytale princess or character), career-based (shop owner, hairstylist), home-based (house keeper, gardener) or environment-based (bird watcher, camper), to mention a few.
In the world of make-believe, children explore, discover and learn for themselves, while beginning to grasp and understand the world around them. An essential part of childhood, role play contributes largely to the child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
Advantages of role play:
Imagination and creativity:
Pretend play has the power to encourage your child to build on imagination and creativity. Since he may not possess the actual materials associated with the ‘role’, he is forced to use the objects that he has, to represent something else. Thus, the brain is trained to think creatively and imaginatively – skills that are sure to come in handy in everyday situations that the child will encounter as he grows. Imagination and creativity are also key to discovery and the learning that follows.
Critical thinking and problem solving:
Role play enhances cognitive thinking skills, problem solving abilities and conflict resolution as the child is encouraged to brainstorm and negotiate when dealing with a difficult situation or any obstacles that come his way. Significant memories are created during role play and the child will go back to these to recall how he dealt with a difficult scenario whenever he encounters similar situations in real life. These abilities also prepare him for teamwork and leadership roles.
Social and emotional development: Social and emotional skills are keenly augmented as well during role play. The child learns empathy by learning to identify with others and understand their situations. He is also essentially learning his role in society and how he fits in the world around him. Teamwork, cooperation, being responsible and sharing responsibilities are some of the other indispensable skills he acquires. By choosing to play a certain ‘role’, the child is learning to choose, decide for himself and set his own goals.
Language and communication:
Your child is sure to pick up new vocabulary associated with the role play and in turn how to communicate effectively. He learns how to use the new vocabulary in the right context and in apt situations, while understanding what these new words mean as well. He understands the importance of communication and how it helps him get his point across. He also discovers the importance of listening, which is another essential skill that readies him for situations both within and outside the classroom.
In the current situation that we are facing, children are forced to stay indoors most of the time and keep themselves occupied with limited resources. Role play is perfect for times like these! In this article let us discuss some new and innovative role play ideas for kids. Rather than donning the age-old, stereotypical roles of doctors or teachers, let us encourage our children to take up some unconventional, yet exciting, roles of everyday heroes that are sure to help them learn about some new professions and different people all while acquiring new skills that enhance their overall development.
Role play ideas for children
1. Baker / bakery owner:
Creative ways for set-up: You can help your child make cardboard / paper cut-outs of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, loaves of bread etc. She can colour them with crayons or even paint them. Give her a few baking utensils or tools from your kitchen and an apron to wear. You can even help her make a chef’s hat from chart paper.
How you can help: Visit the shop to purchase items. Engage in conversation and encourage the child to communicate. For older children, this is also an opportunity to learn to handle money, tendering change etc. (Child can use money from other board games such as Business / Monopoly, if available.) You can also help your child get familiar with the various ingredients used in baking.
Creative ways for set-up: Keep colourful clips, rubber bands and hair bands handy along with combs and hair brushes. A bottle of oil and some old towels will also be useful. Allow your child to set up shop at the dressing table with a mirror to keep things interesting. Older children can be given a hair dryer that can be used under adult supervision.
How you can help: Ask your child to comb, maybe even massage, your hair. Encourage her to communicate and talk about her job and what she’s doing. After you’ve washed your hair, you can even ask her to help you blow-dry your hair and style it as she likes. Show her videos of simple hair styles that she can try on her own.
3. Grocery store helper
Creative ways for set-up: Give your child some of your groceries, fruits and vegetables. You can also provide her with boxes, baskets, trays, packets, bags etc for sorting and arranging. Old cardboard boxes will also be useful. Markers and sticker labels will also come in handy.
How you can help: Your child can sort and arrange your groceries. Allow him to arrange your non-perishables and dry groceries in your kitchen cupboards and shelves. Similarly, he can wash and sort all your fruits and vegetables into bags and arrange them either in the refrigerator or out. This is a great opportunity for your child to get familiar with various categories of groceries, food and other household items. Another interesting way to participate in the role play is to pretend to shop, asking him to hand you items that you require, how much they cost etc.
Creative ways for set-up: Keep cleaning tools such as broom, dustpan, mop, rag cloths handy. You can dilute a liquid cleaner with water in a spray bottle.
How you can help: Since cleaning is an everyday activity, encourage your child to get involved in the daily chores such as doing the dishes, sweeping, mopping, dusting, laundry, making the bed etc. While it might be impossible for him to do all these activities in a day, help him choose one or two for the day. Let him understand the importance of housework and that your house help plays a significant role in your daily lives.
Creative ways for set-up: Give your child common items a detective would usually use such as a torch, notepad, pen, gloves etc. Your house can serve as the crime scene, detective’s office, suspects’ home etc. There is no dearth of ideas that you and your child can come up with!
How you can help: Be ready to play the role of the suspect, witness or victim! And answer several questions too! You could create a case by hiding an object and asking your child to solve the mystery. You can help by leaving a few clues as evidence around. Encourage your child to think outside the box and read between the lines. This is a great learning experience that encourages critical thinking and problem solving.
6. Bank teller
Creative ways for set-up: You can set-up a table with a small divider using a cardboard box to resemble a teller’s station at the bank. You can use paper money from board games like Business or Monopoly. If these are not available, you can cut out pieces of paper / cardboard for notes. Let your child colour or paint them according to the denomination. If possible, print-out templates of deposit challans and withdrawal slips.
How you can help: Help your child arrange the money according to denominations. Make deposits or withdrawals of various amounts. Or, you can even give him a high value note and ask him to give you change for the amount. This role play presents several learning opportunities such as counting, putting together denominations, tendering change etc. Your child also gets to practice and strengthen basic mathematical skills. Encourage him to communicate and use the terms and vocabulary associated with the banking profession.
7. Post man / woman
Creative ways to set-up: Collect old, used envelopes and your child can cut up old labels as stamps, or even use stickers as well. They can be colour coded according to the denominations. Use an old shoe box that you can cut out and shape to resemble a post box. If you do not have any envelopes to recycle, simply make postcards from chart paper.
How you can help: Everyone in the family can write letters and ‘post’ them to each other. Teach your child how to write the address on the envelope. Your child can sell stamps, collect the letters from the post box and deliver them to the addressees. In this age of technology, handwritten letters are almost alien to the current generation. This role play is a good opportunity for them to learn about the postal system.
Creative ways for set-up: Use old bed sheets to create a tent. Your child can pack her bag for the camping trip with a torch, binoculars, blankets and even some snacks for a picnic!
How you can help: Camp out with your child for a while, indoors. You can both pretend to spot animals and birds. You can also talk to her about the importance of preserving nature and keeping the campsite clean. Encourage her to help clear up the ‘campsite’ once the camping trip is over!
Role play during the lockdown
These various ideas for role play are a great way to keep your child engaged indoors during the COVID-induced lockdown. Your child might however miss his regular playtime with friends when they might indulge in taking on roles of a profession together. Since this might not be possible in the current situation, you can make use of technology to include friends or family. For instance, you could set up a video call, facilitated and monitored by parents, where the child could role play with his friends. Another option is to show him age-appropriate videos online so that he can watch and learn about various aspects of the profession that interests him. The two of you could even watch an age-appropriate movie that celebrates a certain profession that he likes to role play.
We hope you have understood the importance of role play and how it significantly impacts your child’s overall development. So, go ahead and encourage your child to indulge in some of these innovative role play ideas. And, do not hesitate to play your part too! After all it is a learning experience that does your child a world of good.
About the author:
Written by Amrita Gracias on 28 May 2020.
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