It's one of the most magical spaces in the playroom: The Dramatic Centre is a favourite among staff and program participants at The North Grove. It is always exciting to see new monthly designs, each thoughtfully put together by the Child Development Team to spark imagination and interaction amongst young learners.
Early Childhood Educator, Maria Garcia poses with some of the Lunar New Year play materials in the Dramatic Centre.
In celebration of Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year taking place in February, the latest design is an Asian restaurant – complete with kitchen, dining area, service window, and decorations. As a fun added touch, Maryann and Maria named the restaurant "Yuki's Fusion" after their fellow Early Childhood Educator, Yuki Tsuchiya. The space creates lots of opportunity for language development in children through introduction to new words and conversation topics. The text on the wall is an example of the minimal and meaningful print in the space. Incorporating small amounts of print on menus and food labels encourages the development of emergent literacy.
The space is transformed every month. Some favourites include "Open Mic Night" with a stage, tinsel backdrop, microphone, and fun costumes and the "Veterinary Clinic."
"When we were designing the space for the vet clinic we asked all of the staff to send us pictures of their pets to put up on the wall. We got so many pictures to use. Everyone was so excited to show off their pets," says Child Development Coordinator Maryann Borg.
The child development staff have collected lots of interesting play materials over the years. Many have been re-purposed, thrifted, or spotted at local yard sales. The play materials represent real-life objects that children may not have encountered or used before. They are able to practice holding utensils like chopsticks, or serving tea from a teapot.
Dressing up makes the role-playing aspect even more engaging. The team always has dress-up clothes and accessories that are relevant to each month's theme. The dress-up basket is currently filled with little purses, wallets, and scarves, and even includes a vest for the restaurant server. Each element helps young learners adopt different roles and act out everyday interactions like taking an order, cooking in a kitchen, or eating in a restaurant.
"This special design is an opportunity to represent different cultures in a way that is accessible to children and their families," says Maria.