Preschool learning foundations - California

At Pyjama Drama Learning we know that pretending is instinctive to children and roleplay, singing together, and playing drama and movement games have many, many benefits. Excellent early childhood educators can boost all domains of development by pretending across the curriculum! Take a look at how pretend play can address each of the California Preschool Learning Foundations:


1.  Social-Emotional Development
By encouraging children to 'act out' a range of emotions in the safe and supportive environment of imaginative play, children are better able to understand their feelings and develop empathy for others, so looking after a sick caterpillar teaches Empathy and Caring (Self Awareness 4.1) and packing a bag for an arctic expedition encourages Initiative in Learning (Self Awareness 5.1). ‘Trialing’ situations before they happen through drama Self-Regulation (Self Awareness 2.1). Playing drama games enhances Group Participation (Social Interaction 3.1) as well as Cooperation and Responsibility (Social Interaction 4.1).  Role play enhances Interactions with Peers (Social Interaction 2.1 – 2.3), and exploring imaginary worlds with their teacher and their friends supports Interactions with Familiar Adults (Relationships 1.1), Interactions with Peers (Relationships 2.1 – 2.3) and Friendships (Relationships 3.1).


2.  Language and Literacy
Interacting with teacher and peers in imaginary environments supports the development of language use, conventions, grammar and vocabulary.  Dramatic play naturally moves children from concrete to abstract language and is associated with gains in story understanding, oral language skills, and reading-readiness at around ages four and five, across multiple research studies. So, taking on the role of a doctor working in a hospital, rescuing an imaginary princess from the clutches of a dragon, or teaching your friend how to drive a sports car supports the development of Language Use and Conventions (Listening and Speaking 1.1 – 1.4) while fixing the engine of your tractor, running a hair salon or building a spaceship develops Vocabulary (Listening and Speaking 2.1 – 2.3). Writing an imaginary shopping list helps develop Writing Strategies (Writing 1.2) and retelling an adventure to find a lost kitten improves Comprehension and Analysis of Age-Appropriate Text (Reading 4.1-4.2)


3. English Language Development
Early literacy is built on the foundations of active listening, the social uses of language, and nonverbal communication, all of which are easily facilitated within the playful environment of classroom drama.  Playingimaginative drama games together develops Listening with Understanding of Requests and Directions (Listening 1.2), creating a magic spell or working in an imaginary science lab develops Listening with Understanding of Basic and Advanced Concepts (Listening 1.3) and communicating with different characters, as well as engaging in movement and music activities help children to Use Non-Verbal and Verbal Strategies to Communicate with Others (Speaking 1.0). Ordering an ice cream cone or asking for directions from a lion develops Social Conventions in English (Speaking 2.1) and Inquiry (Speaking 1.6) while recalling and extending adventures encourage children to Create Oral Narratives About Their Personal Experiences (Speaking 3.1)Reciting dramatic rhymes and singing songs help children develop Phonological Awareness (Reading 6.1-6.3) and making monkey an imaginary birthday card, creating a pirate map, leaving mom a note, or writing an apology to the three little pigs teaches children to Use Writing to Communicate Ideas. (Writing 1.1) 


4. Mathematics
Imaginative play can provide young children with a variety of mathematical explora­tions and applications. Through movement, music, and drama activities, children develop spatial sense, pattern recognition, and the language to express mathematical thinking.  For example, counting imaginary pennies from the piggy bank, the number of slugs in the back garden or the stars in the night sky expands children’s Understanding of Numbers and Quantities in their Everyday Environment (Number Sense 1.0). Working out how many cakes have been eaten in a drama about a bakery or singing a counting song about bear cubs playing hide and seek helps children to Expand their Understanding of Number Relationships and Operations in their Everyday Environment (Number Sense 2.0). Participating in music and movement activities and singing help children to Expand their Understanding of Simple, Repeating Patterns (Algebra and Fractions 2.0) while choosing, within a drama, to get a longer garden hose or find Harriet the Hermit Crab a larger shell helps children Use Mathematical Thinking to Solve Problems that Arise in Their Everyday Environment (Mathematical Reasoning 1.0).


5. Visual and Performing Art
Through the arts, children experience playful exploration, self-expression, creativity, and the joy of learning. The arts also support preschool children’s learning and development in varied and meaningful ways. Flying through the jungle with the monkeys or chugging on a tractor through the fields (to music), helps children Notice, Respond, and Engage (Music – 1.4) as well as Create, Invent, and Express through Music (Music - 3.2). Participating in a range of movement sequences helps children Notice, Respond, and Engage (Dance – 1.1 – 1.4) and to Develop Skills in Dance (Dance – 2.1 – 2.3) as well as to Create, Invent, and Express through Dance (Dance – 3.1 – 3.4). Role play and drama games help children to Notice, Respond, and Engage (Drama 1.1 – 1.3) and to Develop Skills to Create, Invent and Express through Drama (Drama 2.1 – 2.2).


6. Physical Development
Movement provides one way for young children to develop physically, cognitively, and emotionally, and dramatized movement can be integrated into the curriculum, increasing the amount of time spent daily in physical activity.  Drama games and dramatic play preserve children’s joy and exuberance and allow the teacher to focus on process and avoid comparison and competition. So, balancing on a tightrope or taking care not to fall off Crocodile Bridge develops Balance (Fundamental Movement Skills 1.1 – 1.2) and Locomotor Skills (2.1). Drama games and musical movement activities develop Locomotor Skills (2.2 – 2.4)Taking on the role of a doctor develops Body Awareness (1.1) and playing drama games develops Spatial Awareness (2.1) as well as Directional Awareness (3.1 – 3.2)Engaging with music and movement activities within the context of an imaginary world targets Active Participation, Cardiovascular Endurance and Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, and Flexibility (Active Physical Play 1.1 – 3.1).


7. Health
A range of imaginary worlds can help children to learn about, identify and be able to talk about Health Habits (Basic Hygiene, Oral Health, Knowledge of Wellness, Sun Safety) and Nutrition (Nutrition Knowledge). Take them to the dentist, the doctor, and the hairdresser. Ask them to take care of a sick worm or to make sure their baby sister wears her sunscreen and sun hat. Encourage them to lead an exercise class or a mountain trek over the Himalayas, or to take on the role of a chef making a healthy meal in an award-winning kitchen.


8. History-Social Science 
According to research compiled in the CA State Preschool Foundations, the best lessons in history and social-science are those that are acquired as young children participate in carefully crafted activities involving extensive conversations between children and their peers and adults, shared projects involving discovery and learning, and abundant play. So, exploring any imaginary environment together and taking on and meeting a range of different characters encourage Culture and Diversity (Self and Society - 1.0). Spending the day at an imaginary building site, farm or supermarket develops an understanding of Social Roles and Occupations (Self and Society - 3.1)Collaborating on how to retrieve the stolen treasure from the pirate gang, or playing games together and taking turns supports children in Becoming a Preschool Community Member (1.0 – 4.0). Visiting a squirrel in living in a National Park, raking and jumping in piles of leaves, making a map of the neighborhood for a new neighbor, and taking on the roles of baby and parent support Sense of Time and Sense of Place and buying a ticket for the State Fair supports an understanding of the Marketplace.


9. Science
Describing imaginary objects, creatures, and phenomena in the context of dramatic play develop and extends Scientific Vocabulary while posing questions, planning adventures, predicting outcomes, and creating solutions all encourage Scientific Inquiry. So, meeting an imaginary caterpillar, watching it eat, and describing the butterfly it becomes develop Observation and Investigation (1.1 – 1.2).  Selecting measuring cups to bake a cake for the king or binoculars to study a woodpecker helps Identify and Use Observation and Measurement Tools (Observation and Investigation 1.3) Choosing to bring boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella on an imaginary trip when the teacher describes the clouds outside develops Making and Checking Predictions and Making Inferences and Forming Generalizations (Observation and Investigation 1.4) while taking an underwater camera deep sea diving and describing the photos helps Record Observations and Share Findings (Documentation and Communication 2.1 – 2.2). Choosing appropriate materials to build a bridge or rocket ship, caring for a sick kitten, and chasing and observing leaves in the wind support an understanding of Properties and Characteristics of Non-Living Objects and Materials, Living Things, and Earth Materials. 


If you're looking for ways to approach your teaching with a more imaginative slant, why not sign up to take our free, five-minute lesson, designed to change the way you sing nursery rhymes with your children - forever!