Learning Through Role Play

The role of play in education has been emphasized by psychologists since the beginning of the century and the benefits of learning through play are now well established. Play gives children many learning opportunities

  • Acting out and making sense of real-life situations
  • Exploring, investigating and experimenting
  • Collaborating with others
  • Expressing ideas and feelings confidently
  • Developing an awareness of themselves and others

Many play schools and kindergartens will say they practice learning through play but the staff have to be aware of this philosophy. Learning through play is not simply putting the children in a room full of toys. The role of the adults is vital. He/She models appropriate behaviour, asks the children questions and stimulates conversations. In this way, PLAY can motivate children, help develop their memory and their concentration skills. PLAY will also contribute to their emotional well-being, social and cognitive development.

"Teaching for creativity involves teaching creatively… to put it in another way, teachers cannot develop the creative abilities of their students if their own creative abilities are suppressed…" (NACCE1999:90)

Role play is an activity that most people immediately relate to the Early Years. There are many advantages of role-playing in general.

Role-play can:

  • motivate children to learn
  • motivate children to engage in activities
  • seem more like play than work
  • enable children to look at learning various things in a new light

For example, role-play activities can be used to develop skills important inside and outside of Mathematics, many of which can be difficult to teach using the traditional methods of instruction llike self-awareness, problem solving, communiction, initiative and teamwork.

If role-play environment includes research for problem solving, children are more likely to retain knowledge that they have constructed themselves, than that simply handed to them in other classroom activities.


Age : 3yrs to 4yrs old
Role-playing : A Shoe Shop
Resources : shoes, slippers, boots, shoe bags/boxes, trainers (etc)

  • What is the relationship between the measurements…
  • Matching activity from shoes to the box (that fits)
  • Counting in 2’s (even numbers introduction)


  • Trace shoe shapes.. write numbers on them and cut the shapes out…  Make a path for children to follow (in the house), which can lead mebbe something "special"! You decide the special surprise!
  • Design your own slipper! Trace shape of child’s shoe/foot around a piece of hard drawing block or or construction paper.. Cut out a strap from coloured paper. Glue on the strap to the slipper/sandal shape.  Stick sequins, crepe paper balls, or even letters to the child’s name and do the same for the other foot. Put to dry and ready for play!
  • Play shoe sales complete with paper bag and cash register. Label the shoes with price tags. Children arrange the shop as they like. Use chips for counting (like coins) or make your own paper money from coloured paper, or use those from the cash register (usually comes with some $$) or even Monopoly money.


One of the most usual Mathematical role-play environments that is created is a shop with a focus for money. However, if you have ever really listened… to small children’s exchanges in shops – donuts can cost a hundred dollars! And you still get change!!! Shocked

Any shop ideally needs real money to make the children feel that they are actually shopping!

Age : 5yrs to 7yrs old
Role-playing : Little Bakery
Resources : Variety of bread/cakes, table and table cloth (etc)

  • You can teach the different names to bread and pastry through role-play. Mummy and Daddy can be the customers and unsure of which to buy from the Little Bakery cause all of the foods there are looking so scrumptious! My kiddies have a set of like 8 bread types and comes with matching picture cards to play matching games with.  They love it.
  • Make your own recipe book! And mebbe even get to really bake one! Recipe books are great for story sequencing, which is also a part of composition writing. Children learn the process of making/baking and learn helpful verbs like cracking (eggs), mixing, blending and whisking (etc) in their writings. And also about measurements of the ingredients required to bake one of their favourites!
  • Make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Children can learn sequencing during this simple activity which can be followed up with card sequencing play (picture cards) and also written activity like this one.

Children should learn how important it is to give directions in order, or step-by-step. After all, you can’t eat a cake before you make it! You can’t have sandwich before you make it! If you have watched the movie "I NOT STUPID", there is a scene where the kidnapped boy was told to make his own breakfast ie. make coffee and bread on his own but his answer was, "Wo-bu-hui…" (I dunno / I cannot ). Hence, this exercise also allows for the much needed fine motor skills to make bread. Yes… spreading butter and jam requires the work of the fine motor.

The step by step directions below got all mixed up. Number the directions in the right order… 1..2..3.. and so on, until the sandwich is made:




_____ Cut the sandwich in half.
_____ Spread peanut butter on one slice.
_____ Put the two slices of bread together.
_____ Get two slices of bread, a knife (butter knife), and jars of peanut butter and jelly.
_____ Spread jelly on the other slice.
_____ Clean up and put things away.
_____ Put bread on a plate.

  • Work with adjectives! Make a variety of pastries using play dough and get children to come up with creative or special names for them… Tell them to think of words to make their pastries delightful and seem super yummy to attract more customers.
  • Play cafe! Children can make their own menus put up at their cafes. Different varieties for breakfast, lunch and dinner! My girls use their green blocks for salads and greens, red ones for cakes/pastries and those brown ones for bread or rice..

Here’s my elder girl’s own CHEF’s PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION to share with all!  I bought her a nice thick ring-bind notebook from Popular, filled with brightly coloured quality paper for any sketches she may want to draw in or her own thought-of projects… And these are some of her creations in there.

Always make learning fun! Learning should inspire, not perspire!




Role playing helps children's development

Role playing is a great activity to do with your child. Children can learn a mariad of skills and it should not be seen as “just play”. Activities can be simple and you can use whatever you have at home to role play. You will be surprised at what your little ones can do and say. 🙂

You're welcome, GreenQ.

You are most welcome, GreenQ. I love sharing ideas… keeps me motivated to do more with mine. This coming school holidays will offer lots of time to learn through play. For young children (especially those who cannot sit still!), they will not even realise they are learning when they are having so much fun.


Gd idea

I like the idea of role-playing for a shoe shop!  Wanna try it out for my kids. 🙂 Thx for sharing…