Setting up an imaginative play restaurant, cafe or sandwich bar is a wonderful way to engage children with all forms of literacy – speaking, listening, (pre-) reading and (pre-) writing. Plus it is easy to do at home or at preschool! In fact, this sandwich shop is the latest invitation to play that I have set up for Immy and it took less than 15 minutes to put together.
Make up your own simple menu with pictures and words for pre-readers (it doesn’t need to be fancy, young children appreciate you making the effort to encourage their play more than your drawing skills!) Or use a takeaway menu from your own local restaurant or cafe. Laminating your menu will mean it lasts longer.
Every restaurant or cafe needs a kitchen. Don’t worry if you don’t have a commercial play kitchen, a box kitchen works just as well and you’ll find instructions for how to make one here.
To extend the play potential of your restaurant, why not explore different cuisines? Indian, Chinese, Malay, Mexican, a Sushi train…there are so many possibilities! Start with those your family already enjoys, or introduce new cuisines in this playful manner to familiarise your child with the food choices available before visiting a real restaurant together. Theme your restaurant simply by adding small touches like chopsticks and noodle bowls for a Chinese restaurant. I find the discount variety stores are great for adding these little touches cheaply.