This is really two posts in one. The first part is about the changes I've made in our house dramatic play area, the second is about a new toy for that same area.
This year I decided to remove the plastic food and dishes from the house play area. I found that some children were distracted by the colours, red for girls – blue for boys, and that they were only used one particular way.
Now for dishes, the children have wicker hotpads, wooden plates, bowls and utensils and shells from the beach. We kept the metal pots and pans.
I’ve kept the wooden and felt food plus we are using more materials from the art area. The children have discovered that yarn works great for spaghetti, noodles or rice and that pom poms can become any type of food (plus they work really well in the spoons for serving and squeeze into the pots easily).
Play dough is always available as well.
So when I saw felted acorns on Playful Learning website I loved them and thought they would fit in to our play. Then one of our families brought in a baggie of acorn tops and I knew I had to get busy creating.
They are not difficult to make. It took a little patience to get the wool into a small ball shape but after that it took just minutes to finish. I tried to use white glue to attach the tops to the felting, as she suggested, but it was very easy to pull them apart so I switched to a hot glue gun.
I made two of each colour and placed them in our house play area.
The children were instantly attracted to them and began to serve them from dish to dish. Carefully with the spoons or dumping them from the shells.
Today I watched as this little girl noticed, while serving them in the dishes for everyone at the table, that some of the colours matched.
She used the muffin tin to separate them by colour. Even sorting them together by shades of the same colour. She has all the greens in the same cup when she ran out of space. Now colours are a learning experience instead of a gender identifier.
As she was sorting, her grandpa talked to her about the chestnuts they found at the park the day before. What they looked like and how they felt. He talked about the top part of the acorns as being real and I shared how I made them.
What I’ve noticed, and communicate to families, with our new food and dishes at the house area, is that we don’t need to buy toys for the children. When using materials that you find around your house or out in nature takes them back to authentic play. Allowing the children and their imaginations to decide what each item is to be used for.
Plus we can use these items in other play areas too; in the sand table or at the art table. Each day can be a new discovery.
I’ve only had one family ask about the plastic dishes. I explained my reasons for changing and it started a short discussion about the benefits. It has been a very positive experience.