If you teach young children, then one of the areas of your curriculum is probably speaking and listening skills, and for good reason. According to Lev Vygotsky, language is the primary method children use in their intellectual development, and the ability to communicate with others plays a key part in one's ability to have positive social interactions, empathy, and emotional strength.
So, how do we teach young children speaking and listening skills? There are a variety of ways, but would you like to know the easiest one? A method of developing great communicators that, once set up, can pretty much run on its own?
The dramatic play center!
If you include a dramatic play center in your classroom, one of the benefits you will see is that students will have a fun and anxiety free place to experience with language, conflict, questions, and interpersonal interaction.
When I set up the dramatic play center at the beginning of the year, I make sure that the children know that they have to use it appropriately or they will lose their privileges. Then, I try to send them to the center in small groups that include at least 2 children who know how to play, so that they can model how to do so for their peers. Because, sadly, there are children who simply do not know how to play.
Throughout the year I change the theme of the playhouse. It has been a paleontology lab, a rocket, the 3 bears cottage, a castle, etc. And that's the hardest part of setting up this great learning laboratory, because kids are designed to learn through conversations. They are naturally wired for this, and if we give them a chance, the learning that can occur is amazing!