Socio-Dramatic Play

What it is?

One type of play that is very beneficial for young children in Socio-dramatic play. Socio-dramatic play involves the acting out of scripts, scenes, and roles that offer children a plethora of learning opportunities (Bodrova, 2008; Singer, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek, 2006) (p. 39).

How should you implement it?

The teacher acts as a secondary source and brings in the materials for the students to play with.  The students become the teachers and take on the role of what adults would normally do. Teachers may need to scaffold students in order to build upon play skills and develop more complex ideas, roles and scenarios. Teachers can also support a variety of development skills including social/emotional, cognitive, physical and language skills by engaging in play with students and modeling specific skills. 

Breaking the parallel play barrier!

Earlier stage:

  • Imitate and pretend with students
  • Use objects that stand for something else 
  • Engage in parallel play with students 

Middle Stage: 

Engaging in pretend play!
  • Interact in character with children 
  • Use figures similarly to children 
  • Acknowledge students playing together 

Later Stage: 

Assigning role during play.
  • Extend time so that children can develop detailed pretend play
  • Provide materials for props
  • Allow children to assign roles to play

Sociodramatic play is the most effective when it is built into everyday activities. Children should have chances every day to engage in sociodramatic play. It is the teacher’s job to model sociodramatic play and allow for as many opportunities for this type of play as possible. Sociodramatic play can be independent, with peers, or as a class. Sociodramatic play is versatile and can be used to develop many skills and academic areas. The sociodramatic play represents students’ ideas of the real world, and their schema can be shaped and developed through sociodramatic play.

  • Establish a space in the room dedicated to sociodramatic play. Allow students to use this space when given free playtime.
  • Provide props, sets, and costumes to allow students to pretend and use their imagination.
  • Build sociodramatic play into the curriculum while possible. For example-during, a science experiment, bring lab coats and goggles for students to pretend to be real scientists!
  • Model different ways of how to pretend and use sociodramatic play to your students.
  • Build background knowledge to support sociodramatic play. Ex: What do you know about restaurants? Have students brainstorm their experiences in restaurants in order for them to transfer their knowledge in their play and build their schema through play.
  • Give students choice and allow them to explore this type of play if that is their interest whenever possible.


The organization NAEYC discusses what is considered Developmentally Appropriate Practice for kindergarten aged children (3-6 years old). They describe that this is an age where children should be learning through play, community, and social interaction with peers. Sociodramatic play culminates these qualities in that many materials should reflect the community and that sociodramatic play calls for social interaction between children. Opportunities for social interaction is imperative for children this age because they are learning to regulate and communicate their wants, needs, and emotions. 

The New York State standards for grades 1-8 have recently added standards to address play explicitly and allow aspects of literacy that could be intertwined with sociodramatic play. In the elementary age group, students are developing their ability to recognize and follow plot, characters, settings, and other important aspects of a story. Students can use this information to engage in sociodramatic play in a more sophisticated way. Students can practice developing key components of stories that they find in the books that they read as they engage in sociodramatic play. Starting around third grade, students begin learning about dramas, poems, and influences of speech. These components of literacy continue to be developed through middle school. Students even begin to explore scripts, and the setup of dialogue in plays. All of the information that students learn about dramatics can be used in sociodramatic play, and can also help them build upon their knowledge in the literary arts through play.

Resources:– This website encourages parents/guardians, and teachers to engage their child/student in sociodramatic play.  It was created by the Child Development Institute.  They allow a section for questions to ask and signing up for a newsletter.  This specific section of the website focuses on sociodramatic play.  The other sections to click on include: the institute’s history, what they are about, working with a child with ADD/ADHD, parenting tips, expert articles, blog, The Well Balanced family, and contact information.  In addition to these add ons they have room to click on more articles they have reviewed talking about sociodramatic play. – This website is a resource for both teachers and parents as it provides hot topics of discussion, classroom ideas, teacher resources as well as professional resources. Specifically, the article chosen on the website talks about the importance of dramatic play and how it enhances learning experiences for children. It provides steps in how to create a dramatic play area, the skill sets that students will develop through dramatic play, and the four major areas including social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language that is developed through dramatic play. – Scholastic is a great resource for teachers and parents to use to learn more about dramatic play. It provides activities/games, blogs, articles, lessons, and unit plans. Some focal points of the articles and blogs are about developing emergent literacy skills through dramatic play and developing skills such as motor skills. – Bright Horizons is a leader in family and education solutions. The organization aims to support families in early education. They invest in your child’s future education. The specific article that was looked at through Bright Horizons aimed to inform parents and or educators about the importance of pretend play in child development. Likewise, it provided several ideas/activities that can be used to support pretend play. Bright Horizons offers a variety of educational services for children and families.



This video is about the value of sociodramatic play. Even more specifically, it is stated that “Children develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially through sociodramatic play.” This video discusses each way that children develop, and it gives an example for each one. This video specifically  shows preschool children playing in a pretend bakery in the classroom.  This play center allows students to take on roles in a bakery by learning more about how it works, and how it is set up.  Different props were brought in including cookie sheets, baker hats, cooking flour, and cookie jars and different cookie shape cutouts.  Students were able to become familiar with each item while playing with their peers.


This video is a group of 5th graders who are acting in a play reading in Hebrew.  Students are acting out the play High School Musical and playing specific roles in the play.  They were also able to create their own props to emphasize their roles.  I like seeing older students engage in sociodramatic play and be able to work together to put on a play for an audience.  One of the most interesting parts of the video is that they were performing their roles in another language as they took on roles and engaged in play.


The three girls in this video are engaging in sociodramatic play. The video begins with one girl assigning roles to the others. Although they do not use props, they use their imaginations to create their play space.  Student collaboration is happening throughout and each child is engaged throughout the play session.


In this video, the teacher discusses the process of learning through the sociodramatic play center. You can see how math is integrated with students assigning prices to services. In this video, the children also incorporate their personal experiences. This form of dramatic play has the teacher in more of a leadership/partnership role than a facilitator role. 


This video is about an ice cream dramatic play set up. This specific video is about how to create a dramatic play center with the theme of ice cream. Playdough is used for ice cream, and props are made using cardstock paper (cones), cardboard boxes (cone holder), an actual ice cream scoop, bowls,  and glitter for ‘sprinkles’. This video is a great example of how easily dramatic play can be incorporated into the classroom, and at little to no cost at all. 


This video shows how teachers can support students in play. The teacher provides background information and gets students thinking about the pretend play that they are doing. The teacher asks the students “what do you know about baking?” Then students think of their experiences, and then get to play bakery. This video is a great example of how teachers can be involved in play, and allow students to be thinking about their own experiences and building new information when they play.


This is a short video that shows a great example of sociodramatic play. The classroom was set up to look like a restaurant. It had clothed tables, plates, and a kitchen area. There were even costumes and props to support the play; one girl wears a mustache to take on a new character. This is such a fun and effective way to incorporate sociodramatic play in the classroom that allows students to build off of their own experiences.

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