Homemade Toys for Dramatic Play

by Tania K. Cowling
Children can use recycled materials to make homemade dramatic play props.

Children can use recycled materials to make homemade dramatic play props.

David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Dramatic play is a non-threatening experience for children. There is no good or bad, right or wrong way of pretending. It's a form of play where kids use their imaginations and creativity to enjoy the world they live in or fantasy places they would like to visit. Making homemade toys and props enhances this type of play and makes it more authentic.

Cardboard Boxes

Boxes of all sizes become exciting props for dramatic play. Use appliance or furniture boxes to make a house. Turn the box upside down and cut a large flap in the side for a door. Proceed to cut out windows. The children can paint and decorate this playhouse with their original art. Carpet scraps make comfortable floors. Add a few books and a sign above the door of the house and you now have a library. Children can use a copy paper box for a baby bed and pretend to be parents, or with multiple beds, children can pretend to be doctors and nurses and dramatize hospital play.

Sheets and Tablecloths

Cover a table with an old sheet or tablecloth and invite the children to crawl underneath. This private space can become a car, ship, house, spaceship or anything else children can imagine. Help kids make signs to identify the place. Placing four equal-sized chairs together also makes the frame for a tent when covered with fabric.


Pantyhose is a recycled material that can be made into wigs and masks for children's play. To make a wig, cut off the legs of two pairs of clean pantyhose. Tie the two legs to each leg of a third full pair. Braid each leg and tie the ends with yarn to make pigtails. The children can place the panty portion on their head for a wig with pigtails. Pantyhose also make non-scary masks. Cut off a leg and stretch it over a bent wire coat hanger; diamond or circle shape. Secure the end with duct tape to make a handle. Invite the children to cut facial features from felt or construction paper and glue onto the mask face. The children can hold the handle and look through the mask.

Grocery Bags

Use brown paper grocery bags or lunch-size bags to make a paper bag city. Use markers and crayons to draw houses and city buildings on the bag. Stuff the bags with crumpled newspaper. Tape the openings securely. Set up the bags to make a city and let the children use toy people, cars and trucks to dramatize their neighborhood.


  • "Making Toys for Preschool Children"; Linda G. Miller, et al; 2002
  • "1001 Teaching Props"; compiled by Totline Staff; 1992

About the Author

Tania K. Cowling is a former teacher, a published book author and award-winning freelance writer. Cowling is also certified in medical records technology. She has published many articles online and in regional magazines across the country.

Photo Credits

  • David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images