What better way to practice some counting and other preschool math skills in an Around the World preschool theme than by inviting the preschoolers to come to a world market? In our Around the World preschool theme, this was easily one of our most memorable days.
Check out our free Around the World preschool lesson plans here.
World Market Dramatic Play Activity for Preschoolers
What a special set of days this was!
This Around the World Market was one of those activities where you have this huge vision so you plan very carefully and thoughtfully, hoping you’ve covered all your bases. But, since we’re talking preschoolers here, you also keep your fingers crossed that the activity will unroll like your vision.
Smoothly and perfectly.
This was that activity!
From the beginning to the end, the world market could not have gone better. It is easily one of our best dramatic play experiences, and one the was also surprisingly easy to set up.
FAQ About Teaching an Around the World Preschool Theme
For preschoolers, the concept of around the world can be a little abstract.
Developmentally, preschoolers are insular. They see others as just like them. They have many similarities and many differences, and both those should be celebrated.
It’s important in an around the world theme in preschool to teach little learners that children live all over the world. You can use a world map or globe to describe this.
Like all well-planned preschool lesson plans, an around the world theme should include literacy and math activities, as well as sensory, art, dramatic play, and even science activities.
It’s important to read plenty of children’s books that talk about other countries and cultures, and even books describing holidays around the world. Be sure to check out our highest recommended children’s book for this theme.
An around the world preschool theme offers so much opportunity to be creative. In this theme, we built pyramids out of paper cups, built the longest wall in our block center, explored foreign money in a sensory bin, and even “visited” a world market in our dramatic play center.
Around the World Activity for Dramatic Play
This dramatic play activity requires quite a bit of materials, but with a little thoughtful planning, it’s an inexpensive and quick set-up.
- several items from around the world, or items that are representative of different countries
- play cash register
- play coins
You’ll need lots of items from around the world, or at least lots of items that look like they are from all around the world.
I used a combination of trinkets I’d purchased from traveling, as well as gifts from friends.
I included a lot of what I used in the around the world suitcase, but also added some smaller trinkets I’d purchased from Cost Plus World Market. The store had a lot of little items that could be “sold” at our market for only a few coins. I wanted to be sure I’d included a large variety of interesting items, as well as a variety of items that could be “sold” at various costs.
Begin by setting your items out on a low table.
I laid a Turkish kilim rug on the preschool table. It was not for purchase, but I wanted the table to be inviting so it made a colorful table cloth, and it fit in well with our Around the World theme.
I then organized the trinkets the same way a table top store might. They were grouped with the smaller items in front and the larger items in back.
Here are some of the items I included in our Around the World pretend play preschool activities:
- two silk scarves
- two coin purses, once from Greece and one from Mexico
- a molcajete my husband brought home from Mexico
- a Spanish fan
- a hand carved wooden bird from Holland
- a strand of natural pearls from a friend in Denmark
- chopsticks and holder
- a jade bracelet my grandfather gave my grandmother from while he was stationed in Japan
- two hand woven bags from Mexico
- another handbag I purchased from a monk who came to my college
- a trinket of the Eiffel Tower from France
- a trinket of Socrates from Greece
- a trinket of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Italy
I then added a number to each item to represent the cost of the item. I don’t have a free printable for this since it was so easy. Just write some numbers on index cards or even sticky notes.
Teach about Countries and Cultures While Encouraging Dramatic Play
Once the market was ready, I assigned roles to my preschoolers.
We had two shop keepers, a cashier and three customers.
The customers were given a bag with about fifteen large play coins in it. I explained what each job was and helped the children find their roles within the dramatic play scene.
This shop keeper is telling a customer about a set of chopsticks and their koi fish holder. He tells that customer the cost, and hands the items over.
These girls deliberate over which items to buy, and one preschooler points out she wants the jade bracelet because she has seen me wear it.
Yes, I put out some jewelry of my own. Actually, the jade bracelet was a gift to my grandmother from my grandfather when he was stationed over seas, but I felt like I could trust my small class of preschoolers to be responsible and delicate with it.
Picture Books for Around the World Preschool Theme
This student waits patiently in line to buy a tagine, because, he says, “I need to make some dinner tonight.”
The cashier then types in the cost of the tagine, and counts the money given to him by the customer before putting it into the cash register.
The play continues.
After a customer purchases an item, he sets it aside until he has spent all him money, then returns it to the store where the store keeper sets the items out again, fronting the store, and give each item a price again.
Then, the customer switches places with another student so that everyone gets a chance to play each role.
What I loved Most
My favorite part of this activity was listening to the children as they played.
Dramatic play is rich in language and new vocabulary and this play scene was no different. The children used the same language I had the during the Around the World unit, and told each other tidbits of information and trivia about the items.
It was impressive how much the preschoolers remembered from all our other around the world themed activities and the stories we had read.
We kept this dramatic play center up for as long as we could. The children moved from other learning activities back to this center, and we talked about it so much during our circle time activities. Because preschoolers are familiar with a grocery store, this was a way to engage in dramatic play what was new, yet familiar at the same time.
Must-Have Toys for a Preschool Around the World Theme
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.