Tuesday, January 7, 2020

How to Set Up a Fairy Tale Castle Dramatic Play Center

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How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

This has been one of my all-time favorite dramatic play centers. It's the kind of thing you set up and then watch the kids come in and stare at, wide-eyed.

Yes, it took a little bit of time to set up. I actually did it on a parent-teacher conference day, working on it when I had a gap between conferences. The kids' faces when they saw it made it totally worth it! The good news is, it was cheap to set up, too! I had almost everything on hand, and the things I needed to purchase were inexpensive.

First, I cut long sheets of brown butcher paper and cut out square shapes at one end to form the crenels and merlons for the battlement. (That's the toothy-looking part at the top of castles. Yes, I learned some new words and wanted to use them.) I attached these to the wall. My dramatic play area happened to be in a corner, but it would work just as well on a flat wall space.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

It proved more difficult than expected to wrap the paper into the corner, and my corner looked choppy and horrible (I forgot to get a picture). So I improvised and added a beanstalk. For that, I just twisted and wrinkled a long piece of green butcher paper, and then attached it to the walls. However, I should have waited to do that until after the next step.

Initially, I was just going to put up the brown butcher paper with the battlement cut out and call it good, but once I had it up, I just wasn't loving it. I decided it needed bricks, but there was no way I was going to attempt to freehand draw them somehow. Then in dawned on me that a car washing sponge would be the exact right shape and size to paint on some bricks.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

I found one similar to this at Walmart for a couple bucks. I mixed white and brown tempera paint and brushed it onto the sponge, then printed a simple brick pattern. The corner proved to be a pain with the beanstalk in the way, so if you recreate this in your classroom, I suggest putting up the beanstalk after painting the bricks.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

Painting the bricks went by much faster than I anticipated, and I was so pleased with the results! The spongey texture was perfect!

Next, I cut some football-shaped pieces from light green construction paper and drew some simple veins on them with a green marker to make leaves. I stuck them up randomly on both sides of the beanstalk. I also cut a cloud out of white butcher paper.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

It was definitely starting to have more of the look and feel I wanted!

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

To add to the fairytale castle feeling, I decided it needed a stained glass window in the middle of the brick wall. This ended up being so much fun to make! I grabbed lots of different colors of construction paper and cut them into random shapes. Then I drew the window shape I wanted on a piece of white butcher paper.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique
It's a little difficult to see the diagonal lines at the top of this, but they're there!

I glued the colorful shapes all over the paper, overlapping one another and the edges of my window.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

I didn't want there to be any white space left in the middle. This part took a little more time than I thought it would, but I made a pretty big window.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

When it was all covered, I cut through all the layers to get a clean line for my edges. Next, I cut some strips of black construction paper and glued those all around the perimeter to make a frame. I think it would also work to use something like black electrical tape around the edges, and may be faster.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

After it had dried pretty well, I attached it to the middle of my castle wall.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

Then, because I can never seem to help myself, I decided it needed one more thing: sconces. Those were quick and easy. I just rolled up 2 pieces of brown construction paper...

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

...and then stuffed them with orange and yellow tissue paper after hanging them on either side of the stained glass window.
How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

There, that was the effect I was going for! I love it when the picture in my head actually materializes.

For some play accessories, I ordered some royal robes for the kids to wear, and then I hit up the Dollar Tree. I bought some "crystal" glasses and silver plates, which made everything look fancy, but only set me back about $5 total.

How to Set Up a Fairytale Castle Dramatic Play Center | Apples to Applique

Some other fun accessories would be knight and princess dress up clothes, stick horses, plush dragons...anything you can think of!

My students had hours of fun in this area, acting out stories we read during our fairytale unit or making up stories with their own imaginations. It was a delight to watch them.

I would love to hear about fairytale dramatic play in your classroom!

Keep teaching with heart and passion!