Dramatic Play is defined as play in which children act out roles – a child feeding a baby doll, cooking in a play kitchen, etc. It is true that children enjoy role playing. As soon as they start walking they want to do what they see the adults in their life doing. They want to clean, cook, and generally take care of themselves.
There is a misconception that Montessori classrooms do not allow for dramatic play and creativity. In our classrooms, instead of pretending to cook with fake vegetables, children are given real opportunities. This is our Practical Life area! Snack in our early childhood (3-6 year old) classrooms is self-serve. Meaning children are responsible for setting their place at the table, serving themselves and cleaning up after themselves once they are done. Instead of pretending to clean a house, children have real opportunities to clean the classroom – table washing, sweeping, and polishing. Older students play “teacher” when they help a younger child with a lesson. Artifacts from different continents on our culture shelf allow children to imagine what it is like to grow up in another country. The real stethoscope on our science shelf inspires children to listen to their heart, just like their doctor does.
Real materials hold much more value than fake ones. Children are great at figuring out how objects in their world work. They want to be “big” just like their parents, which is why they want real objects. Children do not want objects that look like, but not work like, the real thing – which is why children often grab their parent’s phone instead of playing with their own toy phone.
Dramatic play opportunities our present throughout our Montessori classrooms. Children are naturally creative and imaginative, they do not need a designated area to teach them these skills.