How to Set Up, Facilitate, and Use the House Area

How to Set Up, Facilitate, and Use the House Area

1. Set up different types of pretend play. (grocery store, clothing store, veterinarian, school, dentist, coffee shop, hospital)

2. Talk about the objects: names, patterns, colors, shapes, numbers, sizes, what it is used for. “This is a spoon.” “A veterinarian cares for sick animals.”

3. Label items and objects. (sink, oven, apple)

4. Show how to use the materials. The pot goes on the burner. The milk goes in the refrigerator. Demonstrate how to organize money in a cash register.

5. Facilitate role play. Discuss what a person’s job is or why they do what they do. “A doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your heart.” “A bank teller exchanges money. A cashier checks out your purchases.”

6. Play with them. Be a character or help with an activity. For example, be the patient, a shopper, or a student in class.

7. Help when a child is having trouble. After many tries, show them how to do it. For example, put the Onesies on the baby for them, open the cash register, or put the cap on the teapot.

8. Comment on the way they are playing. (“You are a good daddy feeding the baby its bottle.” “You are very gentle with your bear when you dress him.” “You are very careful with the credit card when you swipe it through the machine.” )

9. Ask who they are, what they are doing, and why. (“Who are you?” “What are you cooking on the stove?” “Does your baby have a fever?” “What do you need a credit card for?”)

10. Suggest props or other toys that could be used during play. (Ask your child to make eggs in the frying pan, deliver a letter to the stuffed giraffe when playing post office, or get laundry detergent at the grocery store.)

Playing Store

All children have the experience of going to many different types of stores! Setting up a store offers so many learning opportunities. Facilitate the first few minutes (help set up, play as a shopper or cashier), but if your children have ever gone shopping with you, they know what to do: exchange money, count, plan, organize, stock, bag, shop, and more. It's also fun for all ages to make: fake money, signs, price tags, labels, credit cards (old library cards or business cards work great), and more.

Have your children collect empty recycled boxes or plastics: cereal boxes, glass jars, cracker boxes, pasta boxes, egg cartons, juice or milk containers, and more. Whatever they can find that is clean from the recycle bins or cupboards, to set up and sell, is great for playing store.

When children start to understand the concept of money and how money is used to pay for things, they should purchase play money, a working cash register, and calculators. Another tip is to purchase packages of labels! Everything in the entire playroom will end up with price tags (even people). If you don’t have a cash register, a calculator will work too. If you don’t have a shopping cart, any small basket will suffice. Add a few reusable used plastic bags for filling and bagging groceries after someone has paid.

• Cash register
• Homemade or plastic money
• Coupons, supermarket ads
• Stickers for tags and prices
• Old credit cards
• Bags, shopping baskets, or carts
• Signs for different store sections (dairy, produce)
• Canned goods, recycled food boxes, glass jars, empty containers
• Hangers, clothes
• Smocks

Playing Post Office and Deliveries

Playing post office is such a rich activity. It helps develop the abilities of writing, correspondence, and addressing!

A visit to the post office can lead to a study of how mail gets from one place to another and the different jobs people hold. This is a great activity to teach a child’s address and the concept of being on a street, in a town, in a state, in a country. Explaining an address can lead to a study of routes, roads, and maps.
Mail a real letter to a grandparent or friend! The entire process is fun: writing a letter, stuffing an envelope, addressing and stamping it, to dropping it in a mailbox at the post office. There are great websites for older children with pen pals around the world, too.

Deliveries from companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS are so common today, that facilitating this theme is another great alternative. Set up a pretend warehouse with old recyclable boxes or role play a delivery person.

• Telephone books
• Envelopes
• Pens, pencils
• Junk mail
• Stickers
• Signs
• Magazines, old letters
• Scales to weigh (kitchen scales work great)
• Different-sized boxes (for a warehouse, to mail a
package, or to make a pretend mailbox)
• Old stamps, ink pads, and stampers

Playing Office

Most children have experienced an office setting, like a principal’s office or a doctor’s office, and many have a parent who works in one. Children love to pretend to be the boss. Providing an old laptop or cell phone works great. You’ll hear them having conversations, giving orders, taking calls, pretending to type, and more (acting just like you). One of my funniest videos is my son imitating me on the phone at four years old, “Busy, busy, busy. It's such a busy busy busy day. I have so much to do.”

• Pads of paper, notepads
• Pens, pencils
• Calculators
• Business cards
• Calendars
• Briefcases
• Stapler
• Folders
• Paper clips
• Post-it notes
• Scissors
• Rulers
• Hole-punchers
• Old computer or laptop
• Old cellphone, smartphone, or telephone

The paperback version of Create a Home of Learning is available at Amazon, your favorite bookseller or

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