Using Dramatic Role Play To Teach Numeracy and Literacy Skills

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Dramatic Role Play is a fun way for students to fill an afternoon. After all the heavy teaching of the first two sessions is over, I would let my students race into our home corner and 'play' for the afternoon. Only problem is, play needs to be 'learning through play'.. ssssh don't tell the students that though! I thought I'd share how I set up my home corner so that students can keep working through their curriculum required knowledge and understandings, whilst letting off steam and playing which is, let's face it, the best way to learn! 
dramatic role play, numeracy, literacy, skills, curriculum, integrated units

There as so many pins on Pinterest with some absolutely beautiful dramatic role play set ups that you can really go to town with this (I always compare working in Early Years to wedding preparations...there really is no limit to how much you can spend!). However, if you're not fortunate enough to have a husband who happens to be a builder, who can whip up a supermarket set up with working sink etc..  then you'll need to improvise with tables, chairs and shelves. 

If students are truly to own this learning area they need to be part of the set up process. I usually set up the key components such as tables, chairs and bookshelves etc..  and sometimes I'll place some toys in or around the area to demonstrate how those areas can be used (e.g. food on shelves, play money in the tray) and then let the students do the decorating. Sure - it won't look as nice but the students will have OWNERSHIP which I feel is more important. 

Here are some labels I use (available in my store) which you can print, laminate and then let students place around the learning area.

dramatic role play, numeracy, literacy, skills, curriculum, integrated units

Next, I get clever about working smarter not harder (Prep teacher's motto!). 

dramatic role play, numeracy, literacy, skills, curriculum, integrated units

I assign tasks within the learning area based on areas the students need to work on. Remember this is the perfect opportunity to differentiate that learning and do one-on-one observations with students, to see if they are demonstrating that skill. Once they are 'playing' I sit at the back of the room and watch particular students and do my tick and flick checklist of curriculum learning objectives to be met. You can also record this method in your student data differentiation discussions with your line manager, as it is directly meeting the students learning needs. Examples below come directly from ACARA Foundation Year. 


Role Play: Cashier

Learning Objective: Understanding that each object must be counted only once, that the arrangement of objects does not affect how many there are, and that the last number counted answers the 'how many' question. 
Example: The cashier will be required to count one-to-one correlation with items on the table (or conveyor belt depending on how fancy your learning area is). 

Learning Objective: Identifying the number words in sequence, backwards and forwards, and reasoning with the number sequences, establishing the language on which subsequent counting experiences can be built.

dramatic role play, numeracy, literacy, skills, curriculum, integrated unitsExample: The cashier will need to add the amount required and express that to the customer. They will also be required to establish how much change to give them. However, subtraction is difficult for students at this age so what you're looking for is that use of numbers used in a sentence. Do they understand how to sequence the numbers (forwards) when adding the total etc?

Role Play: Customers

Learning Objective: Developing fluency with forwards and backwards counting in meaningful contexts, including stories and rhymes.
Example: The meaningful context here is real-world scenarios of shopping and using money. Do they have enough money? How much do they need to buy things?

Learning Objective: Understanding and using terms such as 'first' and 'second' to indicate ordinal position in a sequence.
Example: Encourage students to make a shopping list using first, second and third terms. Then observe students collecting items from the shop in the correct order. Do they understand what these terms mean? You can also set up your shop with the terms as signage such as 'First: take a basket. Second: select your groceries. Third: take your groceries to the cash register and so on'. 


Role Play: Cashier

Learning Objective: Learning that language varies according to the relationship between people (such as shopkeepers and customers).
Example: How do students talk to each other when role playing? Do they take on the correct tone of customer and shop keeper? Have they seen this in action and if so do they understand why we take a polite and formal tone with customers?

Role Play: Customers

Learning Objective: Learning to ask relevant questions and to express requests and opinions in ways that suits different contexts.
Example: Do they know how to ask for something that is not in the shop? Can they demonstrate how to form a sentence correctly in order to get the correct response? Can they use 'how' and 'why' appropriately to get what they want from the shop keeper?

dramatic role play, numeracy, literacy, skills, curriculum, integrated unitsLearning Objective: Understanding that texts can take many forms, can be very short or quite long. 
Example: Making shopping lists is a great activity that students can do to make strong connections to real-world learning experiences. I find it useful to create vocabulary cards, laminate and bind them with a ring tab so that students can copy the spelling down (having pictures with the words helps as well). 

In addition, I let students create brochures for their supermarket. This addresses both numeracy and literacy skills through the creation, writing and pricing of goods in the brochure. Templates for brochures can be found in my store here or you can you make some up with plain paper and let students get really creative!

Humanities and Social Studies (HASS)

HASS elements can be easily interwoven into your ACARA checklist of observations once you have let your students explore their supermarket set up, such as:
  • what are the features of places (supermarkets have trolleys, cash registers etc..)?
  • why do places have those features?
  • where are features placed (e.g. why is the checkout at the front of the store and not the back)?
You can even get students to practice their map makings skills by mapping the learning corner and listing/labelling the features held inside!

The opportunities for integrated learning with dramatic play are endless. You can find all the resources needed to set up your own classroom supermarket here including play money, shelf labels, shopping lists, brochure templates and shop signs. Hunt around in charity shops for baskets and toy food and you'll be amazed at what you'll find!

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