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6 tips to dramatic play outdoors

How to inspire dramatic play in themed playgrounds

Humans have an ability that set us miles apart from other species: we can imagine. This is a gift that allows us to build visions of a better world, and eventually a play-plan to achieve a better life for all. This cognitive force is learned and appreciated from early in life through the act of play.

Latest research indicates that infants can take in advanced cognitive and social-emotional learning through make-believe play, or dramatic play, before they can even speak. This is because the ability to imagine develops long before language skills.

This white paper provides tips on how you can motivate dramatic play in themed playgrounds to encourage imagination, language stimulation, and play retention.

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6 Tips to dramatic play outdoors

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6 tips to dramatic play outdoors

  1. Motivate role play with intriguing themes: animals, houses, shops, traffic, and fairytales are easily transferred to children’s lived experiences and easier to start talking about. A car-theme is understood by most ages and opens the possibility of imagining going out into a wider, unknown world. When supporting play, care givers or parents can initiate the widening of the vocabulary: “Are you driving the car? Where are you going? Are you going to visit your grandparents?"

  2. Increase play duration by adding intriguing elements such as mirrors, bells, and manipulative activities such as turntable plates or auditive stimulation with music panels.

  3. Increase play benefits by combining your themed setting with physical play activity also, for instance slides or climbing opportunities.

  4. Increase play duration by adding space and opportunity for breaks – for instance by having a patio with seating in a play house, or a table and benches inside it.

  5. Increase the possible user numbers by offering play equipment designs that have more access and exit points and feature activities that span both inside and outside, for instance turntables or funnels. When there is no rear side to a design, the children can play house, car, or other themes from the outside, too.

  6. Increase the user age, ability span and accessibility by offering all of the above at ground level.

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