Pizza Shop, Pizzeria, Pizza Restaurant, whatever you like to call it, it’s a perfect dramatic play scenario for preschoolers. I would venture to say that most preschoolers have experience with pizza. It’s something familiar and almost universally enjoyed. Here are some prop ideas for creating a great pizza shop themed dramatic play area that will have your children ready to serve you up a slice!
Go to the Source. Visit a pizza shop in your neighborhood and ask if they would mind donating a few things to a preschool. See if you can get a small-sized pizza box or two, a few menus, even disposable cups, napkins and plates if they’ve got logos on them. These props not only authenticate the experience, but they add environmental print as the children recognize the word “pizza”, and perhaps the name of the local shop. If you’ve got an artistic flair, you could even transfer that logo onto a paper sign for your shop as well. Don’t forget an “Open” sign for one of the best sources of environmental print! Including environmental print is a huge way to boost early literacy skills.
Serve Up a Slice. Of course, you need a pizza! I like the Melissa and Doug set pictured above. (It’s available through many different sources, but if you click the picture, it will take you to Amazon. Just one option.) I like that the children can change the toppings with the velcro pieces, and cut through the velcro between slices as well. Whether intentional or by providence, I also found that this pizza fits perfectly in the small-sized pizza box donated by my local pizza shop! With this prop, you can easily work in some discussions about shapes as the toppings are circles, on a circle pizza, that can be cut into triangles, and it all fits into a square-shaped pizza box! Did you ever realize how much geometry was involved in one of America’s favorite convenience foods?
Write Now. Whenever possible, you want to integrate reading and writing experiences into your dramatic play props. That’s why including the environmental print is so important. Hopefully you’ve been able to score some menus, so provide paper and pencils for taking orders too. You could use small notepads, scrap paper, or purchase relatively inexpensive guest checks (like these) from an office supply store. Children will write at their developmental level. Some will “scribble-write”, some will draw letter-like shapes, while others will copy down letters from the menu to record the orders!
Set it Up! Now you want to arrange your area using furniture. Depending upon your resources and space, you may simply want a take-out shop! My preferred set up is with a front desk/counter including a cash register, printing calculator, or old computer keyboard; pretend money; the menus; order tickets; and pencils. Behind that is the play kitchen with the pizza, boxes, and other kitchen supplies. Last of all is the kitchen area with a table, chairs, and table setting.
Let your children take a part in creating your pizza shop! You may be surprised at the details they have noticed during their “pizza experiences” that we adults will overlook. And let us know here about the improvements you’ve made together!
(And just because I can’t ever resist the urge to recommend a good book, you could check out “Pete’s a Pizza” by William Steig.)
For more food-themed activities, click here!