Literacy and dramatic play: storytelling with props increases preschool children's language skills during play
Literacy and play are two of the greatest influences to children's social and cognitive growth. To examine how literacy influences play, research on the impact of children's literature on dramatic play is reviewed followed by a study that examined how aspects of children's environment may affect children's play. In the current study, classrooms of preschool children were randomly assigned to an adult reading a novel story with props (experimental group), or to the same adult reading the novel story without props (control group). Subsequent to the story telling, the children were videotaped and coded for dramatic play. Children were also interviewed. Parents and teachers were asked to complete surveys about children's exposure to literature in the home or classroom environment, respectively. Analyses conducted revealed that, children in the prop condition used more story language to describe their roles in action than the children in the control group. Gender difference analyses revealed that parents reported girls to be more engaged with literacy at home, and to use more imagination. Both parents and teachers may want to use the tools and findings presented in this study as a way of assessing their interactions with their children, their understanding of how children play and learn, as well as how they can be more informed facilitators of positive play and literacy relationships.