Intentional Teaching where the Children are still at

Okay, we've talked about a very intentional teacher directed time (science experiment) and we've talked about the child lead Intentional Teaching opportunity (block play zoo). Today, we will discuss a mixture of the two.

You set up the environment daily/weekly/monthly with different themes, right? One of the areas that we are constantly changing the theme in is the Dramatic Play area. Home life, restaurants, offices, doctors, veterinaries, etc... How do you involve the children in preparing the environment?

What? You don't? YOU SHOULD!

See, when preparing the environment, if you involve the children, they will respect the environment so much better and will interact with it in a very different way.

Let's go with an example in the dramatic play area of a way to get some Intentional Teaching with the children while setting up a new environment and following the children's lead.

When you are going to change the dramatic play area into a restaurant, what do you need?

A table, chairs, table cloths, food, dishes, aprons, chef hats, etc...

The one thing that we seem to forget sometimes are the menus, the order pads, and the cash register.

When I set up a restaurant, we start by setting the table and dishes and food up. At circle, we discuss that we now have a restaurant in the classroom and I need their help in creating a menu. During free choice time, I take some paper, pencils, and pictures of the food into the dramatic play area.

First we discuss what a menu is. Then we make our menu. We look at other restaurant menus that I have brought in to see what they look like. They have pictures of the food. We decide which items should be served together and cut and paste those pictures of the food.

Then we come up with names for our menu items.

Then we have to come up with a cost. Make it easy. Everything, at first, is 1 or 2 dollars a piece. They get to decide how much everything is worth.

On another occasion I visit the restaurant as a customer. I find that I don't want something that's on the menu, but I want to make a combination of different items. What are the children going to do? Oh, they are very accommodating. The learning takes place when they have to decide how much to charge me.

Then, I just happen to have play QUARTERS rather than play DOLLARS to pay with (this is my way of adding the coins into the play WHEN THEY ARE READY). Now we have to discuss how 4 QUARTERS equal ONE DOLLAR. It's another lesson that I have taken to them in their play.

It's often easy to bring intentional teaching into dramatic play if you have an imagination. After all, if you don't want coffee to drink but would rather have tea, well....what's the difference between coffee and tea?

What do you do if a customer doesn't have enough to pay for their food?

How are you supposed to sort the food at the grocery store?

Again, this is Intentional Teaching brought to the child's play.

The one thing to get rid of is that preconceived notion that we are JUST supposed to let children play. We need to ADD to their knowledge and experiences to help influence that play just a little bit.

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