The House Learning Area

The House Learning Area

The House Area is a small-scale re-creation of the home. In this learning area, a child takes on the roles and responsibilities of family members, relatives, friends, teachers, doctors, and others they meet or are exposed to in their lives.

The House Area is where you will see and hear children act out what they have seen or heard, and invent their own play scenarios. They’ll model their play after you and other people in their lives.

Using the play phones, for example, you may hear them having a conversation with their grandmother or “the boss” while cooking on the stove, vacuuming, working on the computer, or washing dishes. This area is a place to safely practice and copy what they see. Taking on an adult role gives children a sense of control and power, a space to do bigger things, and develop an understanding of how the world works. You’ll also hear language emerging.

The more words supplied by the adults in a child’s life, the more expanded his or her vocabulary will be.

For example, if a child is playing doctor with a medical kit, explain what a stethoscope is and why a doctor uses it (You may need to redirect them and show him or her where the heart is).

When a child is exposed to a new situation like a wedding or visits a sick relative in a hospital, you will see them act this out in pretend play. They may pretend to be a bride, doctor, or a patient. If there’s no other child, they’ll often use a baby doll or a stuffed animal to play a different role. This is also a great opportunity to join in and offer to play a role, not only to participate but to engage in discussion and offer insight. You can explain what marriage is or what an IV or oxygen mask is and used for. You can see how teaching and learning can happen in all these moments!

Children also learn a lot from each other, whether from older siblings, relatives, or friends on play dates. Children will assign roles tasks and even words to their friends. They may say, for example, “You be the dog, and go lie down,” or “No, don’t say that. You say, ‘Yes, okay honey,’ and then take out the garbage.” You’ll also hear some language that will need redirection, such as “He seed the dog,” to which you can respond, “Oh, he saw the dog?” By responding to a child’s speech in this way, he or she will learn without the distraction or embarrassment of having made a mistake.

The House Area is usually one of the most used areas. Creating new settings for dramatic play promotes learning, not only in acting things out but learning the content as they do. Older children (four and above) love to model and pretend play.

Take the baby dolls out of their storage area and set them up in the highchair or stroller, dressed, with their bottles and other accessories ready to go. Or, take out the cash register and toy money, to trigger a game of buying and selling. Take out the medical kit and medical supplies to trigger playing doctor, nurse, dentist, or other medically themed play.

The more resources provided and rotated in this space (such as various costumes or supplies), the more children will role play and engage in dramatic play (restaurant, gym, library, store, and more). Simple things often work best, such as old credit cards or stamps.

Many of these supplies can be found inexpensively, in your cupboards, basement, at yard sales, flea markets, thrift shops, garage sales, from grandparents or relatives, or large retail or discount stores. Also, rotate in life-size items or allow your children to pick things to play with (mommy or daddy’s tools, measuring cups, non-sharp utensils, shoes, and more).

By introducing new materials and props, you can facilitate an entirely new experience each time. Use your imagination. Themes can be set up for weeks. Themes are also wonderful for play dates. Have your children help set up and think of ideas to encourage creativity. Setting it up is just as much fun as actual play. This is a space rich in play experience.

Learning Connections Tied to the House Area

• Practice caring for and nurturing dolls, stuffed animals, or each other (Physical, Social/Emotional)

• Model, re-enact, and act out interactions with family members or friends. (Language, Social/Emotional, Cognitive)

• Play dress up and pretend to be other things like animals, a nurse, a chef. (Language, Cognitive, Physical, Social/Emotional)

• Facilitate a theme, set up, collect, and organize items. (Language, Cognitive, Physical, Social/Emotional)

• Pretend to clean, cook, vacuum. (Cognitive, Physical)

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

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