Creating a role play area as a learning environment for your children that’s fun, colourful and inviting is so important in their early years of learning and beyond. It builds their confidence, gets their imagination running and does wonders for speaking and listening! With friends and siblings, it’s great for sharing and turn taking and putting themselves in another role so to venture outside of their norm. There’s also great opportunity for writing, numbers and money (at the shops). Back when I was in the classroom, I took pride in creating a fun classroom environment for my class through role play corners. I used to ensure the role play area fit in with our theme at school, the reading area was neat, organised and inviting. It was really encouraging for the children to learn and love learning this way.
Naturally as a homeschooling mama, I was going to do the same for my girls as I had seen the benefits of it from the classroom. My girls absolutely love role play, at the moment it’s always mamas and baby play – most likely copying my talk with each other -they do it really well too! In the past we created these role play areas in our play rooms. Below are some of our own examples of how to make easy role play areas that we constructed over this academic year alone. The key is to make it simple and easy for yourself by getting a little creative with what you have at home already! Add slowly to your role play area, involving your children within the process!
Being Bedouins in Saudi Arabia!
Here as part of our unit study on Saudi Arabia we created this desert like Role play area complete with tent and a sensory box for sand, and pretended we were visiting Bedouins in the desert. Initially we sat up the tent and desert play for the children to explore themselves. Then to finish our unit, we did a role play of visiting the desert. There was an added bonus of the children practising some greetings in Arabic too. They dressed up in their most Arab/Bedouin clothing, packed their bags and headed for the role play area (from the other room.) They explored Bedouin crafts and drank pretend tea. They then made some date balls and did some camel sand art too and enjoyed their picnic in the pretend desert!
What we used – As you can see we set up a normal camping tent and covered it with black cloth. You can also use 2 chairs and drape a big black cloth over them too. We layered the inside of the tent with red rugs (as is the case in Bedouin tents). We then put sand coloured sheets around the tent to represent sand, and left the sand box nearby with animals that can be found in the desert, including snake, scorpion and lizards. We set up a tray with traditional Bedouin things including camel soap, examples of weaving, camel wool, tea pots and Bukhoor lighter. We kept all our related books nearby too.
At the Beach!
As we continued our unit study on Saudi Area we looked now to the beach and under the sea. More on our unit study here. This time we created a sea side role play area (traditional to what my kids see here on the coast of Saudi Arabia – Jeddah) This time we had wet sand in our sensory box instead of normal sand to allow the children to build sandcastles. We also had another sea-side nature box where we had collected shells of all sizes, seaweed and more from the sea. My girls and I created a lovely view of the sea using mixed medium art and spread out blue cloth to represent the sea. We even brought in our big shark soft toy!
What we used – We used cloth to represent the sand and sea area. We used our sensory box again to represent the wet sand to build sandcastles. For this particular role play area, we had to paint the scene which my girls thoroughly enjoyed! We sponge painted, used our brushes, stuck on cotton wool for the clouds and even added some of our number fish into the sea. We kept the tent as a beach tent this time, with a picnic hamper nearby. Took out the girl’s beach toys and violla you have your own role play area! I also created a catch your own fish game by using editable fish which I cut out and laminated (as I had previously used in maths) and put a paper clip near the mouth. I then made a fishing rod out of straw (as the handle) and attached string with a magnet at the end. This was the highlight for the girls – they loved that they could catch fish at sea. We often saw fisherman at the sea side.
For our Houses and Homes theme we set up a builder’s site or construction site! It was one of our most simple set ups for a role play area, but also most effective! The girls were fascinated by everything we put here. We took a lot of inspiration and ideas from Twinkl. We took things out from our dressing up box. We also had a table for an architect to help design the buildings which proved to be a fab spot for mark making and drawing! We brought out all our toys linked to building including LEGO 10616 Duplo My First Playhouse, building blocks, wooden bricks. The girls enjoyed dressing up as builders, using their tools and pretending to construct their own houses.
What we used: I started by covering a part of the floor with black bin liner and sticking down with yellow duct tape. I then turned a small rug upside down to reveal the darker side and used that as the lego playing area. You could just at more pieces of black bin liner (I had run out). I also wrapped up and recycled old cereal boxes to add a bit of bricks for building walls (we later used these at parcels in our post office role play area). I found, printed and laminated the following from Twinkl’s resources: Building Site Role play signs, Construction Area sign, squared drawing paper for designing the homes, construction site challenge cards, – these were really handy as it helped me think of new challenges for the girls as we played. We labelled all our boxes and ensured everything was put back in its place when we finished playing.
At the Post Office!
Continuing with our theme on houses and homes, we transformed what was once our fruit and veg market into a post office! The girls were going to host a Tea Party and were writing invitations. So we introduced our Post Office Role play area so that they could imagine and pretend to be standing in queue at a post office waiting for their stamps. We even had a post box which we managed to borrow from a fellow homeschooling mama! This role play included a till and money, and knowing what to do when at the post office. They were eager to write too so that they could post their invitations!
What we used: As mentioned we used our Ikea bought market stand and literally transformed it into a post office, using the large post office banner from Twinkl. The girls were given a Children’s Kid’s Pretend Play Imaginative Learning Post Office Role Play Shop Creative Toy Set as a gift from their Aunt. It was perfect complete with stamps, magazine, card wrack, postcards you name it! We added our till and some plastic coins and notes too. We also printed off first class stamps to allow my girls to cut and stick a stamp on to the envelope while at the post office!
Doctor’s Role Play Area!
As part of our unit study on People who help us, we set up this awesome Doctors Surgery! My girls and their friends absolutely loved this. The loved playing doctors and nurses and patients! Again, this was one of the easiest role plays to set up. We even had an area for the receptionist too! Ammarah starting coping out words from the labels around her, pretending she was writing a patient’s prescription! I think she loved having a clipboard to write on! All in all, a very easy to set up and fabulous role play area to try with your children at home!
What we used: We used a spare mattress which I covered with a white cloth. We put a white table and chair next to it for the Doctor’s desk. I hung up a pegs wrack with a dressing up box for thier Melissa & Doug Doctor Role Play Costume Dress-Up Set (7 pcs) and Childrens Medical Case Kit Set. The rest of the surgery was brought to life by Twinkls fantastic Doctor’s Surgery Role Play Labels. I love how the pack that I downloaded came complete with the Surgery labels, xray photos, prescription writing sheets, surgery opening times, and so much more! We also included a medicine box with old boxes of medicine, and real bandages, plasters and dressing from our First Aid kit.
For our short unit study on Malaysia after our holiday there, we set up this lovely Malaysia display and discovery table to bring a bit of Malaysia back home with us! The girls loved showing all they saw and did and brought up from Malaysia to their friends! I painted the backdrop of the island of Langkawi as a surprise for my girls who recognised it straight away! This is the perfect way to set up a display on a country you just visited and reflect on all that you learnt there.
Role Play Stories!
Of course role play works really well with stories too! We did just that after reading the fairy tale – Little Red Riding Hood! We used role play masks, puppets and even put on a show to help the girls get into role and develop their learning through role play! You can find more on that here.
For our Space Unit Study, we created Space scene with a moon landing space station. For this we built on our display slowly. The chidlren took part in constructing it and putting in together! They helped paint the black space display, did a bit of marble rolling painting to create the planets and even assisted me in making their duct tape astronaut costumes! This role play area was set up for the children to explore themselves, with books and information available too. But on one particular day we took them on a space journey ourselves! We turned off all the nights and using clothes and scarves folded up we set it up across the floor (which was covered with black cloth) and took them on a journey around space! I think they were really excited by this and remembered most of the names of the planets just by their activity alone! Watch our Youtube video to show you how you too can take your children on a space journey!
What we used: I used 3 widths of the IKEA MALA – Drawing paper roll for the back drop of our Space display. I used plenty of masking tape to stick it together and to the wall! We used a lot of fabric and scarves for our Space journey. For our Astronaut costumes we used lots of duct tape to cover an old loose long sleeved top!
For our latest theme we created another role play corner which the girls helped me construct over time. We literally turned over our Space display backdrop to reveal a blank canvas! My girls handprinted the leaves of the tall emergent and canopy layer of the rainforest. Over the weeks we added more and more to this display, including the different animals that can be found in the different layers of the rainforest. All leading up to our own Rainforest Explorers day where we pretended to go on a trip into the rainforest!
What we used: We used the very cool book Make your own Rainforest which we set up as a small world play area. Using the pictures and ideas from there we added more and more to our own role play corner. We also used the fantastic Rainforest Explorer Pack from Twinkl which contains a banner, explorer badges, sketch paper and labels! As usual we used another else we could find in the house that was green, including green scarves, throws and even bed sheets! We also had a sensory box with dry leaves and twigs to represent the forest floor!
With Ramadan approaching, we decided to set up another Role play area to get the girls into the Ramadan spirit! In the same way, we used the IKEA MALA – Drawing paper roll to set up a another blank canvas ready to decorate! We used 3 widths of the roll – you can adjust it to your desired amount. I showed the girls a picture of a purple blue sky. We talked about the colours and we literally starting painting in horizontal strokes straight on to the paper which I had stuck onto the wall. I worked on the darker blue sky and they painted the purple shades. We had finished it in half an hour! I then used the beautiful templates which I downloaded for free from Sweet Fajr. I was also inspired by her lanterns and mosque city so added it to our display! We displayed our calendar in a linear format this year and will be using our 30 good deeds for Ramadan each day!
The girls have thoroughly enjoyed our big art display walls and always look forward to setting up a new one! Remember most of the time you can use a lot of your things at home! If you haven’t already done so, set up a dressing up box for your children. Make things easy by printing labels, banners and posters ready made online and make your children’s artwork more meaningful by adding it to the display!
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*We have been given a 7 months free subscription to access Twinkl resources – all comments, views and recommendations are my own and resources are selected based on our homeschool learning.
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