Guardian Camberwell Create a Zoo-Themed Sociodramatic Play Space

children dressed as tigers in sociodramatic play space

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Guardian Childcare & Education Camberwell has created an engaging zoo-themed sociodramatic play space in their Opals Kinder Room.

“The space was inspired by the children,” shares Early Childhood Teacher, Fan Yi. “I had noticed that many of them were pretending to be animals to express their feelings, and a few who are usually quite introverted are willing to communicate with their peers during ‘animal games’.”

“I created the zoo-themed sociodramatic play area to encourage children’s communication, imagination, cooperation and literacy and numeracy.” 

children reading zoo brochure in sociodramatic play space

“In all of the spaces I create in the Opals room, I aim to cover and combine as many learning opportunities as possible in the same experience, while always taking a holistic approach.” 

By selecting materials, purposefully arranging furniture and intentionally paring children groups, Fan Yi and the team have created a magical and exciting play space that the children adore.

“The process of selecting resources and designing the environment to be inviting and inspiring did take a bit of time, but it was completely worth it in the end,” shares Fan Yi. 

“Since opening the space, I have continuously adjusted the area based on children’s learning and interests to keep it engaging and fresh for them.”

zoo-themed sociodramatic play space

“The zoo has become the most popular space in our room, and each day come into the Centre and are excited to play in it.”

“The children love exploring different identities, roles and storylines while playing in the zoo. I’ve overheard many interesting conversations, some of which have given me more ideas on how to extend the space.”

In addition to exploring zoos through dramatic play, the children have also been learning about various species of zoo animals, the differentiation between zoo animals and farm animals, zookeepers’ jobs and their daily tasks, and zoo visiting experiences.

children playing in zoo-themed sociodramatic play space

“Children have started pretending to be visitors at the zoo, which inspired me to embed an information centre into the zoo, including a visitor map, zoo brochures and books about zoos,” says Fan Yi.

“The children have loved the extension and are using it to engage in literacy and numeracy while playing and exploring a different identity through role play and conversation.”

Families have shared their love and support of the zoo experience, commenting on how excited the children are to continue their zoo games at home. 

In a further extension of the zoo, Fan Yi and the team have created an Entomologist Lab, which is based on a conversation that the children had around bees in the zoo.

entomologist lab in zoo-themed sociodramatic play space

Now, when the children visit the zoo, they can also interact with a collection of beetle ambers, butterfly books and fill out an observation report on what they’ve found in the lab.

When asked of future plans for the space, Fan Yi says that the team is planning a zoo-themed art experience.

“To begin the experience, we will encourage the children to think about, choose and draw their favourite zoo animals or the food that zoo animals eat,” says Fan Yi. 

“Then we will discuss the tools zookeepers use and children will draw them as well. We also plan to host discussions before and after the experience and collect the children’s artwork to display as a provocation of literacy in the room.”

Fan Yi and the Opals team look forward to expanding on the sociodramatic play space and creating environments in the room that encourage children’s communication and imagination.

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