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The Bakery 

Supporting Children to Succeed in the Dramatic Play Center 

Preschool Teacher Maureen Ostroff describes her intentional utilization of the classroom dramatic play center. She begins by learning what children know about a topic and shares how she helps them increase their understanding. Strategies that are used to support children's social skills and self-regulation are demonstrated. Teachers ensure children's success and provide enough time and support to enable them to practice and master skills.

A Spanish version of this video is also available.

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  • The Bakery: Supporting Children to Succeed in the Dramatic Play Center

    (This video has captions. You can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video.)
    Download a printable transcript in English and Spanish.

    Narrator: Play just does so many things for children. When children are playing they learn social skills, they learn language, they exercise their large muscles, they create and they imagine, they acquire abilities to kind of regulate their emotions.

    Dr. Jeffery Trawick-Smith, Eastern Connecticut State University: When children pretend, they tend to play out things that they already know about. And so one thing that is very helpful to children is to provide prior experiences; to actually give children some background knowledge that they can base their pretend play on.

    Maureen Ostroff, Preschool Teacher: We read a non-fiction book about baking. I asked them what they knew about baking; they kept on telling me, “You cook, you cook, you cook.”

    Teacher: What are you making Mia?
    Child: Soup.
    Teacher: Soup? In the Bakery?
    Child: No.
    Teacher: No. I thought you were making cookies.

    Maureen Ostroff: We talked about cooking is sometimes done on top of the stove, baking is usually done in the oven, that’s the difference between the two. So, by the end of the week they realized a baker bakes items like breads and cookies where a cook might make soup. Our dramatic play was a bakery this time and they needed a lot of guidance and focus, and we tried it with just pictures on the wall to help them understand these concepts of cooking and working together and whose job is what. The teacher really needed to be there during this week to support their self-regulation because they were having a hard time taking turns, seeing someone else’s perspective on something.

    Teacher: Remember she shared with you and now you’re sharing with Mia. All right Mia put those in the oven. And then she’s going to share with you.
    Child: Tiffany go there.
    Teacher: Well say, ‘Tiffany excuse me please.’
    Child: Tiffany, excuse me please.
    Teacher: I have to put my cookies in the oven.
    Child: I have to put my cookies in the oven.
    Teacher: See she moved for you, go ahead.

    Dr. Jeffery Trawick-Smith: One important role that teachers can play when they’re interacting with children in play is to help peers to interact with one another, to help them to kind of have conversations, to share their ideas, to collaborate on various play themes. Some children need support in that area.

    Maureen Ostroff: They’re using this when they’re done with this particular cookie cutter then they’re going to give it to you, or we’ll use a timer, “Here, let’s set it three minutes.”

    Maureen: All right I’m going to set the timer. It says how many minutes?
    Child: Five.
    Maureen: It says three.
    Child: Three.

    Maureen Ostroff: After the first day of the teacher in there we were helping, hoping that teacher could kind of come out a little bit into the rest of the classroom, and they just weren’t able to.

    Teacher: Why don’t you ask her. Say, ‘Tiffany, can I please use the measuring spoons?'
    Child: Can I please…
    Teacher: No, why not Tiffany?
    Child: Cause I’m using them.
    Teacher: You’re using them? So why don’t you say, ‘Can I please use them when you’re finished?’

    Maureen Ostroff: And I know this was an area that they all wanted to be at and I wanted it to be successful for them because there’s so much they can learn. It really needed all week long a teacher to be there to facilitate that kind of play.

    Teacher: Well he can put it on the bottom shelf. Look, there’s two shelves. See, put your cookies on the bottom shelf, Max. Oh you had a hot mitt on. All right, set your timer.

    Maureen Ostroff: Next week it’ll be out again; we’re hoping that it won’t need so much teacher direction.

    Child: Everyone you gotta come buy cookies… Look cookies. Ms. Maureen there are cookies…Everyone you gotta come play.

    Maureen Ostroff: They were using a lot of symbolic imaginary play; they were asking for money.

    Child 1: I need three dollars.
    Maureen: Three dollars.
    Child 2: Cookies?
    Child 1: No dollars.
    Child 2: Here’s three dollars.
    Child 1: Thank you.

    Maureen Ostroff: And they were pretending to go in their pocket and pull out the money. I mean even though everything else was very realistic, those were one of the parts that was very symbolic that they could use their imagination which is so important for them to, to use their brain and that higher-level thinking.

  • This video was funded by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood to support implementation of the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards.

    Producers: Teresa Surprenant, Sean Leser, Julia DeLapp
    Script: Teresa Surprenant
    Videography/Editing: Sean Leser
    Narration: Jeffrey Trawick-Smith

    Special thanks to the teachers, children, and families at Cooperative Educational Services School Readiness Program in Trumbull, CT.