World Adventures Dramatic Play Series
During our school year of World Adventures, we "travel" to different countries and experience an imaginary, playful theme, based off something special from each one.
There is quite a few opinions on developmentally appropriate teachings, within the ECE community. Those opinions and the research forming those opinions, changes from year to year. Every class, and more importantly, every child, is at their own level of development. The majority of preschool aged children have difficulty comprehending beyond their own daily life experience (home, grocery store, gas station, fast-food restaurant, etc). However, introducing the World Adventures concepts in an age appropriate environment and format, provides a small glimpse into life beyond their personal world. As a teacher, you will be able to know if your class is ready for themes and concepts branching beyond their immediate world view.
Begin by introducing the concepts such as near/far, up/down, ways we travel, and children around the world. As needed with all themes, the World Adventures Dramatic Play Series is open-ended (without specific requirements) and playfully (loosely) based, without requiring geographical and historical facts. The World Adventure themes offer development of social skills, problem solving, higher order thinking, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Various themes also include embedded educational concepts such as: sequencing, one-to-one correspondence, literacy and enriched vocabulary.
Children love the idea of traveling and are very curious about other children and the world around them. I introduce imaginary travel experiences through: simplified mini lessons, simple maps and globes, and a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. We discuss what children around the world do, where they live, how they dress and the types of food they eat. Each imaginative travel theme brings an open-ended, fun, exciting and unique adventure from that particular country and area of the world. Many of the themes are made from my own experiences as a world traveler.
Malaysia: Orangutan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center
Personally, Malaysia holds a very special place in my heart. My husband is from Malaysia and we've spent a lot of time traveling there to be with family and see the incredible beauty. One of the places we make sure to visit during each trip is the inspiring Orangutan rehabilitation center and the boardwalk into the sanctuary to see the Orangutans. The conservation effort to help protect and care for the unique apes is something I wanted to simplify and bring into my classroom. For two weeks, during our World Adventures: Malaysia theme, my scholars learn about the rainforests, life in the rainforests and the role of the animal rehabilitation centers and sanctuaries. In particular, I teach my scholars about the incredible Orangutan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center, in Sandakan, Saba, Malaysia. Our imaginative experience allows my scholars to become caregivers in their own classroom "Orangutan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center". My scholars care for infant Orangutans, attending to all their needs: health, feeding and hygiene.
Each world theme includes a set of calendar cards. It's important to show class events on the calendar, for students to count up to. My scholars enjoy seeing our events for the month on our classroom linear calendar. They eagerly count up to the "travel" day in excitement and often proclaim their enthusiasm while announcing the remaining days to their peers.
Simplified Altas, Maps and Globe
One of our favorite books to introduce maps and where we are, compared to the world around us, is 'Me On The Map' by Joan Sweeney. The Melissa and Doug 'World Map Learning Mat' is a small, simple version I place in the literacy center. I like to use and place the 'First Atlas' by Miles Kelly in our literacy center as well. I use the 'World ScrunchMap' at the beginning of each theme. It's more durable than a paper map and can be easily passed around, or laid out for hands-on use. It's not one I leave out through each theme, since it's much more complex. However, I do like to give my scholars a view of the incredible amount of special places around the world. I have a simple globe set out in our literacy center, that I switch out periodically with an inflatable globe, to introduce the concept of the Earth.
Passports, Stamps and Visas
Each of my scholars receives a passport, with their picture and name inside. I printed their picture and name on sticker paper, leaving a place for them to add their signature. Each World Adventures theme includes printables for passport entry visas and exit stamps. I print the visas and stamps on sticker paper. Date stamps are added when we "enter" the country on the first day and "exit" the country on the last day. On the last day of the theme, we discuss the experience, what they've learned and what they enjoyed the most.
Sign, Bunting and Mural
Whether you choose to print out the sanctuary/rehabilitation center sign large or small, it adds an official feel to the space. I attached it to PVC pipe and taped bendable, silk tropical leaves along the back. The large version of the sign is printed off in segments and taped together, to make it grand for the imaginative area. The Malaysia bunting comes in full color. The mural is made from rolls of fade resistant bulletin board paper. Like all my murals, I laminate them in panels so they can be stored and reused. Any 3D hanging paper items, attached to the mural, are taped with painters tape and removed for storage. The baby Orangutan images are included in the dramatic play pack.
While there are plenty of stuffed animal Orangutans out there, I use the stuffed toy Orangutans from IKEA. They're larger and more lifelike. They even have adorable bellies and hook/loop hands and feet.
Vests, Aprons and Name Tags
The World Adventures: Malaysia theme includes pages to print onto printable HTV, also known as printable iron-on transfers. I like using vests and Montessori style aprons, to make the imagination center as independent as possible. The dramatic play pack includes caregiver tags as well.
Our imagination center has one set of cubbies, to arrange supplies for the theme. I always add a theme/activity related book to the center. Each of the themes have items that can be easily pulled from other themes and activities, used in the classroom. For our Orangutan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center, I read the book 'Orangutans Build Tree Nests' by Elizabeth Raum. One of the activities/tasks is for the caregivers to build a tree nest for the baby orangutans in their care, with a large basket and silk leaves.
Large tropical silk leaves are set out for the nest building. I found an inexpensive party pack of tropical leaves via Amazon (affiliate link at the end of the post). The large basket becomes the nest base. Many of my scholars have a careful thought process behind their nest building. It's enjoyable, listening to them verbalize their thought process and end creation. They usually want to make the nest as comfortable for the baby orangutans as they can.
Care Checklists are laminated and added to small clipboards. Washable dry erase markers and an eraser are available to check off the items on the list. A black and white version of the checklist is also included in the dramatic play pack. I like to conserve paper, without sending more clutter home, so I use the laminated version. A large plastic tub is used as the orangutan bathing tub.
Felt foods and Cloth Diapers
Orangutans live primarily on fruits found in their rainforest home. I have felt foods, but foods from balled up tissue paper work just as well. Simple large cloth doll diapers work well for the IKEA Orangutans. Regular disposable diapers also fit their body size and shape.
Formula and Feeding
An empty formula can, with a removable lid and scoop, adds fine-motor muscle strengthening and movement. A label for an empty formula can is included in the dramatic play pack. I also add small baby bottles and bibs from the dollar store.
Word cards are included in the dramatic play pack, in both uppercase and upper/lowercase. I usually put a set up in our writing center, in the imagination center and also the creativity (art) center. I use additional themed center activities, including a reader, that will be available in the corresponding World Adventures Math and Literacy pack.
Fiction and non-fiction books are more readily available for the World Adventures: Malaysia theme than many of the other themes in the series. Some of the books from my collection are: 'Orangutans Build Tree Nests' by Elizabeth Raum, 'Orangutangled' by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, 'Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy' by Rita Goldner, 'Love the Orangutan' by Stefan Casta and Anna Viktorsson (found at IKEA), 'Orangutans' by Mara Grunbaum, and 'A Day in the Life: Rainforest Animals: Orangutan' by Anita Ganeri.
There are five books the I leave out in our library, during the entire school year: 'What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World' by Maya Ajmera, 'People of the World' by Nancy Loewen, 'Food of the World' by Nancy Loewen, 'Homes fo the World' by Nancy Loewen, and 'Clothing of the World', also by Nancy Loewen. They have fantastic colorful photographs of the actual people, foods and places around the world. My advanced readers enjoy reading pages to their peers, when we travel to a new country.
Additional Activity Idea #1
Play Dough Tray
Each center has activities that correspond with the theme. In our creativity center, we regularly have a play dough tray. For the World Adventures: Malaysia theme, I add the PlayMobil Orangutan Family figures, silk leaves, sticks and tools.
Additional Activity Idea #2
A fun game to play with your students and set out for them to play with together, is 'Orangutwang' by Play Monster. The idea is to strategically hang rainforest items on the hanging orangutan, before it springs back, surprising the players and tossing the rainforest items off. As a bonus, the game uses one-to-one correspondence (dice and hanging items) and fine-motor muscles. My scholars really enjoy playing the game and always get incredibly excited when they're able to work together to hang all of the rainforest items, before it springs.
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World Adventures: Malaysia Dramatic Play Pack: