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Cardboard Restaurant
Type: Projects   Skills: Language & LiteracyPlay & CreativitySocial & Emotional Skills
We’ve all had the experience of bringing home a toy only to have a child ignore the toy and instead play with the box. Boxes are great open-ended “toys” because they allow kids to use their imagination. This activity will show you how to turn recycled boxes into a make-believe restaurant. Cardboard Restaurant
What We Learn
Children can learn a lot through dramatic play like this. Kids learn about the world around them through experimenting about the roles people play in different environments. Hearing new words as they play in their make-believe restaurant will help to build their vocabulary. Finally, this activity can help children acquire and strengthen their social skills.
Supply List
Large boxes to cut out props of different sizes and shapes
Masking tape (multiple colors)
Tempera paint
Construction paper
Scissors to cut boxes
Small child size aprons
Chef’s hats
Large wooden spoons
Large metal spoons
Metal bowls
Pots and pans
You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy pre-made plastic restaurant to encourage dramatic play.

First, set up the activity based on the number of children who will participate. Add more boxes, utensils and props as needed.

Next, set up the restaurant boxes in a designated area so that it is accessible to the children.

Finally, engage the children in the restaurant play. Provide real utensils (such as spoons and spatulas) for the children. Make aprons, chef hats and other props available. Remember to engage the children in discussion about their play by asking open-ended questions about what they’re doing.

If you only care for one child, then invite people like relatives, friends, or set up play dates with other children. Incorporating other children will help develop social skills and model appropriate play – peer influence is very powerful.

For younger children, it can be overwhelming to have too many items in the restaurant, so limit the number of boxes and utensils used. Provide opportunities for them to do what is age appropriate, like bang spoons with pots and pans, etc.

For older children, the project can involve them helping to make and decorate the restaurant. They can help think about what other props can be used in a restaurant. They can use paper and pencil to take customer’s orders.

Children with special needs can engage in this activity as well. Depending on the child’s needs, the provider or adult needs to assess where the child is in their development and how it will be appropriate for them to participate in the restaurant play.
Find Activities

Related Episode
Age Appropriate Play and Learning
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Games with Boxes
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