We know how important dramatic and pretend play is for kids and growth of early literacy skills. It helps develop narrative skills for storytelling, and lets kids assume roles to learn about the real world (cook, teacher, reader, fireman, etc). It encourages social interactions and (hopefully) can engage grownups in play with the kids.
We don’t have a lot of early literacy play space in our library, but we had foam blocks, and a basket of puppets and a rotating set of puzzles and other toys. I re-vamped our little table to cover it it in felt, and then in paper. It was a huge hit. And last spring, we got a puppet theater.
I knew we were going to lose storage space (board books + blocks), so I wanted one with shelves for toys. We also replaced our bench with one that has board book space, which has been quite underwhelming. But I have a fix in the works, stay tuned! (hint: picture book categories!)
Downside of shelves on the back: I’ve found the shelves stuffed with picture books, but hey, at least the kids are looking at the books 🙂
We started with a set of felt letters, but after a few months they started to stretch out and get really dirty, so then we got some foam bath letters and added velcro to the back. They work great, and kids (and grownups) love writing things on front of the puppet theater.
We also got some new wooden food to go along with the puppet theater, and kids love to cook/serve/eat the food.
After a while, were getting pretty sick of cleaning up all the time, so I labeled the plastic toy bins to encourage clean up. And it works!
Most Some of the time, toys get put away, often in the correct bin.
The puppet theater has been:
A cooking show on tv
A bank (“which account would you like that deposited into?”)
A library (one little girl told her mother that books are free but you have to bring them back!)
a puppet theater (duh)
Overheard at the puppet theater:
“Let’s put on a puppet show together!”
“come watch my show!” (after which the mom put down her phone to watch!)
“want me to cook you some food?”
“what would you like to order?”