The ability of children to imagine and make-believe is astonishing. Offer them the grain of sand of an idea and it will turn into a pearl of a play opportunity. An ideal role-play activity is an imaginary restaurant at home. This teaches children how to interact socially, resolve problems and indulge in some great arts and crafts activities to set the scene.
What’s on the Menu?
Every restaurant needs a menu. Get the children to make the menu using some folded card. Perhaps the front of the menu could be an interesting drawing or a collage they have created from a food magazine. Think about what dishes are going to be on the menu and encourage the children to find small pictures from food magazines that match the items on the menu.
You could think about making an eye-catching advertising board to lure customers in to the restaurant. Take a large square of cardboard and go wild with decorating the board. You could use creative materials made from items of food found around the kitchen at home and stuck to the board with PVA glue.
Looking the Part
Everyone who works in a restaurant has to wear a uniform. Perhaps the children could dress in simple black and white outfits. How about accessorising their uniforms with homemade name badges? Take a small rectangle of card and they can draw their name in intricate letters. Border the name badge with a strip of PVA glue studded with edible decorations like small lentils, maybe some coloured rice or tiny pieces of pasta. Secure the badge with a taped safety pin.
Give every child an apron to wear and have a go at making a chef’s hat. This is easily done with a simple ‘crown’ made from a length of cardboard cut to fit the little chef’s head. Now add a ‘puff’ of white kitchen towel at the top of the hat to make it ‘chefy’.
Setting the Table
Every restaurant sets the tone with a beautifully decorated table. Set your little artists to work by creating a beautiful bespoke set of crockery to be laid on the table. All you need is a selection of disposable, white plates and cups. The children can be creative with their ideas and adorn the crockery with paint or drawing designs.
You will need a centre piece of course. Try a decorative vase made by using an empty toilet roll tube as the base. Now fill the vase with hand- crafted tissue paper flowers with pipe-cleaner stalks and brightly coloured scrunched up tissue paper for petals.
For a very realistic effect, ask the children to find small branches or twigs from the garden. Liberally paste them with PVA glue and as the glue becomes tacky attach tiny, screwed up balls of bright paper to the twigs.
Other Props to Make
The children will need to work really hard with a whole range of arts and crafts to fill their new restaurant with all the ingredients needed to make a success of their news business:
- Food is hugely important of course and great fun to conjure up. Think about letting them serve ‘real’ food if possible. This could be homemade fairy cakes or decorative jam sandwiches. It’s always good to get youngsters involved in the kitchen. Alternatively, some wonderful feasts can be created from play dough or even cut out pictures from magazines. Small balls of green paper become peas, carefully cut up bits of sponge are bread or toast and strips of corrugated cardboard make realistic chips.
- A restaurant won’t get far without a cooker. This is easily made with cardboard boxes painted to create the right impression and decorated with foil covered plates for hot-rings and jam jar lids for dials and knobs.
- A welcome addition to the restaurant is money. Made from slips of paper and decorated in interesting designs is a valuable drawing and design lesson for youngsters. Use disks of silver tin foil for coins.
Simple craft activities offer hours of activities that accumulate in the creation of a wonderful imaginary scenario. The arts and crafts used to make an ‘at- home restaurant’ are limitless. The restaurant will create some wonderful, memorable times parents and children can share together too.