Every birthday is monumental in a kid’s eyes. Even pretend ones! “Birthday Party” is one of my favorite dramatic play themes to set up, and the kids love it too! Melissa & Doug know a thing or two about kids, play, and birthdays, so they’re sponsoring this post as a part of their Ultimate Birthday Bash. (They’re also hosting an amazing giveaway, so be sure to check out those details at the end!)
Kids love to play pretend. Spaceships, restaurants, post offices, castles — they all spring out of the simplest objects when accompanied by a child’s imagination. I love to encourage dramatic play. Its benefits go way beyond a little fun.
It can be overwhelming to organize and store all those little props and supplies to accommodate a child’s racing imagination. One trick I learned for managing dramatic play props is to create a prop box. Here’s how I created the most used prop box in our house!
To keep from having a billion prop boxes, I like to combine similar or complimentary themes into one box. For this box, I combined the birthday party props with the pizza parlor props. I set up the props recently for a birthday party theme as my niece came over to play.
I set up the area, covering the table with a trimmed down dollar store special table cloth, along with coordinating party plates and hats. I used a recipe box with a bow attached only to the top as a fun and durable gift box that can be opened over and over again.
For the birthday dinner, I added Melissa & Doug’s Pretend Pizza Party, which has been a favorite in our play kitchen for years. If only making real birthday pizza was this easy!
I’m always anxious to add literacy-building pieces to dramatic play, so for the birthday theme, I added a few birthday cards, as well as a big birthday banner, and some real world food packages you’ll see soon!
Of course, it isn’t a birthday party without a birthday cake! I use this fantastically realistic looking candle I received as a gift from a student almost a decade ago. It was too pretty to just burn, so it sat stashed away until I finally rescued it from the darkness of the cabinet and turned it into a prop!
In the kitchen area, I added an empty cake mix box to encourage real world connections and add environmental print. For the same reasons, I also included a pizza box, which happens to fit our toy pizza perfectly! (I asked a local pizza restaurant for pizza boxes and menus to put in my prop box to use for our pizza parlor theme, and they were happy to donate them. Don’t be afraid to ask!)
I always love watching the play theme evolve as the kids interact, adding, elaborating, and inventing as they go.
Of course, you can never anticipate all the twists and turns dramatic play will take. These two decided it was a dog birthday party, so the props were quickly moved to the floor, of course!
Once the theme is exhausted (which usually takes days, if not weeks for this one), all the props can be stashed away in a prop box labeled with the theme as well as the contents. Then, when you want to set up the same theme, or simply use one of the props for another theme, it’s quick and easy to locate, use, and put away any of the props.
What’s a favorite dramatic play theme in your home or classroom?
Find an inspiring round up of dramatic play set-ups at Modern Parents Messy Kids here.
$500 Giveaway to spend at Melissa & Doug:
Want more Birthday Bash fun? Click here to see ALL our Birthday resources and tips, AND to enter our special Birthday Bash Giveaway, where you could win $500 to throw the Ultimate Birthday Bash from Melissa & Doug! For even more fun, be sure to check out our Birthday Wishes Pinterest Board! Find all the benefits of the Melissa & Doug Birthday Club here.