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Unstructured Role Play


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Hello

I have read lots recently about the value of role play areas without a specific focus...often referred to as deconstructed role play. I am curious to hear from anyone who has one set up as to how it is going (sounds great!) and what you refer to it as in little people friendly terms.

Thanks

Pauline

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I did a project with a group of schools a few years back. They provided lots of boxes, pieces of fabric, bowls (can be a hat as well!!) etc etc. Many located their area near the blocks so they could link those resources if they wanted. What they found was that adults needed to support the play for quite a while at first as the children naturally wanted to de-construct the resources before they could start to use them as they came to understand their properties and explore possibilities.

Cx

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Yes, we found exactly the same thing (with nursery age children). We needed an adult there otherwise children either just took everything apart, squashed boxes etc or just didn't know what to do. As it was our first attempt we weren't sure what support it would need, whether we should add other role play resources or leave it as it was, adding adult support. We went with the latter in the end and it did work for a while. I wouldn't say it was a resounding success, but definitely something we will try again with a little more planning and some hindsight!

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What we did first was have adults model actually using the resources, firstly by creating stories by talking with children about how they could use props and then co-creating stories and suggesting possibilities. This was real sustained shared thinking!

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Thank you all. I'm giving it a go...The Imagination Station was born today...looks great just now, before the children get in there!!

Aha!! That was the bit staff had to get over...they wanted it perfect and the children wanted to explore properties of materials!! Some staff found this particularly challenging and couldn't see their role in modelling using resources to represent other things. In a world where children are used to having the replica props given to them for everything some struggle with representational and imaginative play. They don't actually know what to do with the non-specific objects provided because they are so used to role play being very tightly structured by adults expectations of what it is representing and how things "should" be used!!

Hope it is fun for everyone to explore opportunities together!

Cx

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Along with large boxes I have some baskets containing

fabric pieces,

bags and purses,

pens, crayons and paper/clip boards

hats

pegs, string, ribbon and clips and masking tape

Having read the ABCdoes article mentioned above, I will be adding one of those elastic washing lines...a great idea!

What to others include in their 'prop boxes' to enhance their deconstructed play area?

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We have been collecting sturdy cardboard boxes. The children have used them to build and attach materials to make structures. The boxes have also been used for small play with props. Yes everything was adult initiated at the start but towards the end of term the children initiated play by themselves by adding small play characters, natural resources and anything else. We let them use most things. They did muddle things up a bit but it just meant that we had to allow the children more time to tidy up before home- time.

We made up a pirate chest that included chains, old coins, jewellery, watches, hats and maps. We had cardboard tubes nearby to use as telescopes. This was,very popular especially with the boys.

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I have put in a box of mixed fabric, a box with four small tarpaulins...two blue and two green, writing/mark making materials, some camping elastic washing lines and mixed size boxes and tubes. There are two blank backdrops, one of which is a large, wall mounted whiteboard. The area has very easy access to the dressing up clothes and I have added a box of masks as I found several new packs of foam masks lurking in a cupboard when I moved into the room this Summer. I am really looking forwards to 'playing' alongside the children as I help them to see the possibilities of our Imagination Station!

Edited by pporteus
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I would add some plastic bowls, they can be hats, bowls, spaceships...somewhere I had a list of the basic objects you would need to represent anything you wanted but I think I may have lost it over the years. It was based on work by Professor Pat Broadhead so someone may know. Bowls was definitely on it.

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...somewhere I had a list of the basic objects you would need to represent anything you wanted but I think I may have lost it over the years. It was based on work by Professor Pat Broadhead so someone may know. Bowls was definitely on it.

Oooh, I hope someone can provide us with that 'basic list' - it would be SOO useful! I will do a search.

Thanks Catma!

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Catma,

I too would be really interested in that list.

I am always looking for those everyday objects that can (with a little bit of imagination from the children) be re-purposed for the duration of their play! Come to think of it, washing bowls from the creative area, have been used as hats and as a pond recently and the children often bring cones, sticks, small stones and blocks to use as food, money and as decoration/embellishments e.g laying out a path, making a wall etc.

The fabric pieces I already have available have been used at various times as grass, ponds, rivers, a campfire, paths and roads when laid out on the ground and the sky and a roof when draped over the space between boxes and draped over a box to make a den, a burrow and a cave.

We have also been asked to cut doorways, windows and letter boxes as directed by the children when they have used boxes to create houses, castles, space ships etc.

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