Christmas Dramatic Play Centers

Photos of a wrapped Christmas gift and a child playing with gingerbread play dough. Text says: Christmas Dramatic Play Centers.

Christmas is a favorite time of year for children. And the dramatic play center is a favorite play area in most preschool and kindergarten classrooms. December is the perfect time to combine the two to create a Christmas dramatic play center. Here are 3 fun ways to add Christmas cheer to the dramatic play center, while still sneaking in some learning.

Gift Wrap Shop:

Your kids will love wrapping pretend gifts for one another in this Christmas dramatic play center. (I literally have my students wrap empty boxes, then pretend an amazing gift is inside!) Added bonus: they get to play with tape!

Photo of a Christmas dramatic play center gift with a "gift order" slip where shopper can request gift size and decorations.

Supplies needed:

  • small boxes
  • wrapping paper
  • tape
  • gift tags
  • pens (to write on gift tags)
  • scissors
  • garbage can

Keep It Organized:

Cut the wrapping paper into small chunks (approximately 12” X 12” to 18” X 18” works well.) Limit it to 2-3 designs at a time, to keep the work efficient. Stack the chunks on a shelf. (Pre-cutting the paper makes it easier for kids to wrap and cuts back on excessive waste.)

Place the small boxes in a large box or basket. Add a small basket for the tape and one for the gift tags. Label the boxes and baskets to help students keep it organized. (This Santa’s Workshop kit includes labels, wall decorations, gift tags and holiday cards to further enhance  your gift shop.)

How It Works:

Students grab a sheet of wrapping paper and a box. They cut the paper to match the size of the box, then wrap it using their child-like skills. You will be entertained by their techniques! Once they finish, they add a gift tag (which lets them practice writing classmates’ names while they play.) 

Gingerbread Bakery:

You can easily turn your pretend kitchen in to a Gingerbread Bakery with a little play dough and some cookie cutters! Add a little spice to the play dough for a delicious smelling Christmas dramatic play center.

Picture of a child cutting out gingerbread shapes from play dough in a pretend bakery.

Supplies needed:

Keep It Organized:

Use the kitchen set from your housekeeping center. Add a few cookie sheets to “bake” the cookies on. Put the cookie cutters in a basket. Store the play dough in an air tight container. If you want students to “sell” their baked goods, add a cash register and pretend money. (This Gingerbread Bakery set includes menus, recipe cards, order slips and even ideas for baked goods without the mess of play dough.)

How It Works:

Students “create” and “decorate” cookies and Christmas goodies that they give or sell to their classmates. Placing orders and writing recipes helps incorporate writing into the center.

Toy Shop:

Celebrate the holiday shopping spirit with a Christmas dramatic play toy shop. Students can “purchase” the perfect gift for friends.

Photo of building blocks that could be "sold" in a pretend toy shop.

Supplies:

  • toys (cars, trucks, dolls, books, building blocks, etc.)
  • price tags
  • cash register
  • toy money (or it can be “invisible” money)
  • shopping bags

Keep It Organized:

You will want to set up the toy shop in a way that makes clean up clear and easy for the students. Use a book shelf for the toys. Place a picture of each toy (or type of toys) on the shelf to indicate where they should go at clean up time. You might want little coin purses or zip bags for shoppers to carry their money in.

How It Works:

Add a few Christmas decorations to your dramatic play center. Find a bookshelf (or toy shelf) and organize a few toys for shoppers to buy. Set up a station for a cashier with a toy cash register and shopping bags. Students can do their pretend shopping for friends or family. You might even encourage “wish lists” to incorporate writing into this Christmas dramatic play center.

Are you ready to add some holiday cheer to your classroom with a Christmas dramatic play center? Consider setting up a gift wrap center, a gingerbread bakery, or a toy shop. Your students will have hours of fun as they play!

Photos of a child cutting a star out of gingerbread play dough and of a wrapped Christmas gift. Text says: How to add Christmas to Dramatic Play.
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