Prop Boxes

What to do:

Dramatic play is a way children learn to use language. One way to encourage
this play is with prop boxes – boxes loaded with clothing and tools of a particular
trade. Children can use the props to dress up and act out different adult jobs.
You can make one for almost any theme. Our example is for a veterinarian’s

  1. Select a theme for your prop box and begin to collect appropriate props to include. You may be able to get old hats or uniforms from parents.
  2. Include literacy props. Try to include a wide assortment of different types of paper: lined, unlined, stationery, note pads, and envelopes. Try to use real items that children might naturally find.
  3. Introduce the prop box to children and explain the use of items. Remind the children of the materials in the box and the potential uses at the beginning of each free-play period. Encourage and guide children in their use. For example, remind the children to read to pets in the waiting areas, fill out forms with prescriptions, or appointment times, or fill out forms with information about the parents or the condition and treatment.

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  4. Change the prop boxes periodically to keep the interest level high.

Other suggestions:

  1. A fast food restaurant, ice cream store, or bakery suggests menus, order pads, cash registers, specials of the day, recipes, and lists of flavors or products.
  2. A newspaper office might include writing paper, telephones, directories, maps, typewriters, computers, and signs that focus on sports, travel, general news, and weather.
  3. A supermarket or grocery store prop box could include labels for shelves and sections, food containers, cash registers, telephones, shopping receipts, checkbooks, coupons, play money, and promotional flyers.
  4. An airport box could be created with signs posting arrivals and departures, tickets, boarding passes, luggage tags, magazines and books for the waiting area, safety messages on the plane, and name tags for flight attendants.
  5. A gas station and car repair box can include toy cars and trucks for props. There can be receipts for sales, road maps to help with directions to different destinations, auto repair manuals for fixing cars and trucks, posters that advertise automobile equipment, and empty cans of different products that are sold in stations.