Many preschoolers are familiar with babies. Even if they don’t have a small sibling at home, they might have friends and relatives that do. And nothing is more adorable than a pint-sized pretend parent showing tender, loving care to baby dolls! A baby nursery dramatic play center is an excellent addition to the dramatic play center rotation.
Why Have a Baby Nursery Center?
Caring for others is a skill that only gets better with practice! Pretending to care for babies and acting out roles such as “parent,” “babysitter,” “sister,” “grandpa,” and more helps build understanding about the different viewpoints. There’s a phrase that says, “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.” That’s true for preschoolers too!
At this age, students are just on the brink of learning that how they think and feel is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than how other people experience the world. That’s why sometimes, when playing hide-and-seek, small children “hide” by covering their eyes. To them, what they see is what EVERYONE sees. They can’t see you, so obviously you can’t see them…with your eyes open…looking right at them sitting in the middle of the room.
A word wall is one of the best low-maintenance literacy tools out there! Students practice writing and reading the words (with the help of the pictures) independently. This makes the language accessible to them on their level, and they get great practice with:
- Identifying letters – “Look! Baby starts with B, and so does my name!”
- spelling – “g-i-r-l, those letters spell GIRL!”
- sounding out letters
- writing letters and words
A library nook is another example of a fantastic place to practice literacy skills. There are so many books out there about babies! Also, students can practice “reading’ to their small charges.
Here are some outstanding books about babies to consider adding to the classroom library:
- Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch
- The New Baby by Mercer Meyer
- Babies Don’t Eat Pizza: A Big Kid’s Book About Baby Brothers and Baby Sisters by Dianne Danzig
- What Brothers Do Best and What Sisters Do Best by Laura Numeroff
- Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
- Bobo and the New Baby by Rebecca Minhsuan Huang
- More, More, More, Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Write a Note!
Many classrooms and childcare centers have some “Daily Report” or note that comes home every day. The reports typically describe their morning work, circle time activity, the centers, snack, etc. These special Daily Reports are for the students to complete for their babies. They love taking a turn at being the adult!
Having wheeled toys indoors can be challenging. It is definitely important to discuss keeping the babies safe by walking them in the strollers and not running them around the room. When the class goes outdoors to play, the students are allowed to take their babies, and strollers, out as well.
Time for a Change!
Every baby needs an occasional diaper change. Parents may have some supplies they are willing to donate from home, such as diaper bags, extra (unused!) small/preemie diapers, baby wipes containers (full or empty), and the like. Of course, some kits can be purchased online, like the Melissa and Doug kit pictured above. Is there anything they don’t make?
This center is a perfect time to talk about the different needs that babies have, such as bottles, help eating food, baths, and lots of sleep! It is also a fantastic time to talk about how each preschooler started as a baby and needed help, but look how big they are now!
There are so many things that can be added to the nursery – as any parent knows, babies require a LOT of items. So plan on an extra-large storage tote for this center if they are rotated!
Of course, baby dolls are an essential part of this center. Thrift shops are an excellent resource for some gently loved dolls. But if thrifting isn’t an option, there are thankfully a lot of options online!
Here is a handy list of other supplies for creating an amazing nursery dramatic play center:
- Baby bottles
- Baby bathtub and props like a shampoo bottle, soap, etc.
- Diaper Bags
- Toy car seats
- Toy highchairs or bouncy seats
- Infant spoons and bowls
- Doll sized crib
- Doll-sized changing table (it can be a repurposed shelf!)
- Diapers – either a pack of preemie diapers or ones made just for dolls
- This kit with all the printables, including a banner sign, word wall words, care forms, and labels – all great for early literacy skills!
“But boys don’t play with dolls!”
Sometimes, parents get a little concerned when their sons play in the dramatic play/dress-up area. It is imperative to reassure them that the students – all of them – are learning empathy, kindness, and how to be a good parent. It is surprising – often, the most rough-and-tumble students are the ones that find the baby nursery the most enticing!
Have fun playing and learning with your child – in the baby nursery – today!
Looking for More Ways to Enrich Dramatic Play?
Find additional Dramatic Play inspiration and ideas HERE:
A huge thank you to Brenda Mathson for sharing her classroom pictures and allowing us to use them in this post!
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