Our dramatic play area has been a Martin's grocery store for the last few months. Last week, I went over to do some "shopping" and found Will, Aiden, and Lucas had turned Martin's into a restaurant.
They weren't quite sure how to set up their restaurant, but they were very certain that they wanted to make a restaurant "with an area for cooking and a place for customers to sit." Other students heard rumors of a restaurant starting up in dramatic play and the restaurant was soon bustling with hungry customers.
At meeting that day we started talking about this restaurant idea. We decided as a class that we wanted to transform our Martin's into a pizzeria so that we could play restaurant. I asked the kids to brainstorm some ideas of things we would need to make our pizzeria. Lucas was certain that we should serve breadsticks. Clayton wanted to know what we would serve as drinks? Molly reminded us that we would need a table with chairs and "maybe some flowers in the middle" for our customers.
The next day we got started making our materials. The kids have complete ownership over this project. I helped cut out some of the pizza toppings, but they decided where they want the materials displayed and how they should be organized.
We cut out our "toppings" from felt and pom poms.
Some friends helped make labels so that we would know where all of our toppings are kept.
David wrote "cheese" on the label for the basket of cheese.
After we got our materials ready, the kids set to work making pizzas.
It has been very exciting to see this play scheme evolve. What began as just building pizzas has evolved into a full scale pizza restaurant. "We need clipboards and paper so the servers can write down orders!" Emilia decided.
Emilia takes a customer's order in the Pizza Kitchen.
Grace writes "olives" on her order form so she can remember that her friend wants olives on her pizza.
When the kids take each other's orders, they try to write the first letter of the topping being ordered. For example, if a friend orders pepperoni, they write "P" on their clipboard. This has been such amazing practice with isolating the beginning sounds of words, connecting letters to their sounds, and writing letters.
David took my order for a pizza and then set to work making it for me.
I told David I wanted a "pepperoni, mushroom, and sausage pizza" so he wrote "P S M" on his paper.
At meeting on Monday we brainstormed some names for our pizzeria. Our class voted, and the winner was "Pizza Kitchen"!
Our friends also decided that we needed defined roles for each member of the group. "We need a manager to tell the workers what to do!" Molly said. "Oh yeah! And servers to bring the food to the table!" David added. "What about a chef?" Will asked. The conversations that I have overhead this week as the kids navigate through this task have been so insightful!
Naisha and Emilia are the customers! They ordered a pizza and waited for their orders.
"We need four pieces. That makes a whole pizza!" Ethan tells Adam as they work together to make a pizza.
Server Will dropped Adam's pizza on the floor. Uh oh!!
Clayton and his baby are waiting for their order. "I have to feed the baby a bottle though because babies don't eat pizza." he told me.
While this activity has been a lot of fun, it very purposefully allows the kids an opportunity to work on some important math and language concepts while they play. Some of the areas of development we are able to focus on during this activity are:
-Shapes and sorting
-Language skills like ordering, asking questions, and following multistep directions
-Letter recognition and print awareness
-Fractions and the mathematical concept of "whole" and "part"
-Social skills: playing cooperatively and productively with 3-4 students for a prolonged period of time
We are just getting started with this idea! I can't wait to see it continue to evolve and deepen as this month goes on.