It’s easy to fill a box full of props to encourage imaginative play. Imaginative, dramatic play is an essential part of early childhood education and development and a prop box is the perfect way to let kids explore roles and ideas around a theme.
Themes could include things such as bakery (see our Playing Bakery post for ideas), astronaut, doctor, vet and so on. Gather props for your chosen theme and store them in a big box, basket or plastic container and leave it where it is easily accessible. Find an exhaustive list of themes and ideas for relevant props at allthedaze.com.
Find old clothing for dressing up and where possible include real items that can be used safely rather than toys. Kids love playing with the real version of something far more than with a plastic imitation toy one. Try second hand stores and flea markets to stock your prop boxes but also ask family and friends if they have anything that might be worth including.
Get your kids involved by asking them what they think should be included, and with searching out appropriate items.
Get together with a group of families who also have kids and make a bunch of prop boxes between you which can be rotated from household to household.
Things like pens, paper, playdough, play money, pieces of fabric, paper bags, an old computer keyboard and so on are great open ended items which could be included as useful items in a lot of themed prop boxes.
Chat to your kids about the theme and what it might mean, what people might do in the relevant roles and their experiences of the topic and then leave them to it.