Speech Pathology News: Role Play

Children love to let their imagination run wild in the land of make believe. Role playing of fictional or real-life characters and situations can be a great activity for children to stretch their creative play skills and learn about language.

Benefits of Role Play

Here are some reasons why you should engage in role play with your child:

  • Role play is a good way to introduce new vocabulary that your child may not be exposed to in everyday life, such as “princess, “pirate”, “sword” or “fairy”.
  • You will help your child learn to play with others when you engage in pretend role play with your child. Your child will start to pretend with other children and learn to take turns and cooperate.
  • When children role play a character, they develop their ability to take the perspectives of others and develop imaginative skills and empathy.
  • It’s fun to role play. You and your child will not run out of things to play when you let your imagination lead the play.

Tips to Use Role Play to Develop Language

  • Let the child lead the play. Rather than tell your child what to do or ask questions, try making comments on what you and/or your child are doing instead. To keep the play going, offer a new idea by asking a choice question such as “Should the prince go to the tower or stay in the castle?”
  • Introduce new vocabulary words that are relevant to the play and appropriate for your child’s language level. Explain the meaning of the words and repeat the words several times during the play.
  • Expand on what your child says. You do this by repeating what they say and adding one new piece of information. A child may say, “This fairy is kind and she takes care of the princess.” Then you might say, “Ok the fairy is kind and she takes care of the princess to protect her from harm.”
  • Keep it simple. There is no need to introduce too many new pretend roles at once. Children love repetition, so they are likely to enjoy role playing the same character over and over again.
  • Expose your child to new experiences. Every time you go somewhere new with your child, it can become material for role play. A trip to the zoo can prompt your child to pretend play as a zookeeper or as animals. Books can also introduce themes to be incorporated into role play.

Role Play Games to Develop Language

Game 1: Bus Driver: Take turns to role play as the bus driver and passenger. You can be the bus driver first and model it for your child, then your child can have a go being the bus driver and you add language to the situation. Here are some phrases you might use in this game according to the situation: Drive the bus, Stop the bus, Press the horn, Board the bus, Pay the driver, Find the change, Walk down the aisle, Sit down, Ring the bell, Get off the bus.

Game 2: Baker: Role play as a chef in a restaurant kitchen. Pretend to cook different dishes and teach vocabulary by naming all the ingredients required such as meat, oil, vegetables, eggs, sugar, salt and pepper. When preparing the dishes, you can use verbs such as pour, stir, mix, cut, spread, fill, weigh, taste, serve and demonstrate them with the appropriate actions.

The Fremantle LDC Speech Pathology Team