Many families have a regular pizza night. Why not extend the family time fun and create a play "pizza restaurant" with literacy-enriched activities?
Start by sharing a pizza-themed book! Two of my favorite are:
While a young girl waits for the delivery of a hot pizza, she provides the appropriate animal sounds for a variety of pretend animal pizza deliverers.
When Pete feels miserable because rain makes it impossible to play ball outdoors, his father finds a fun indoor game to play with his son.
Children want to do what they see grownups doing. During dramatic play experiences, children act out what they've seen the grownups in their lives doing. Just gather up a few literacy and play props around the house and you can create a pizza restaurant with your child. They'll get to play a role as chef or server as they prepare a pretend pizza meal for you, their guest. Many grownup routines are so full of literacy activities, but we rarely stop to think about this fact. As a guest at a restaurant, you might read the daily specials on a chalkboard and browse the menu at your table. When a server takes your order and writes it down on his order pad, that's modeling literacy skills. When the chef reads the order and refers to the recipe, she is using literacy skills as well. Cooking involves both reading and math skills.
For "pizza restaurant" play, you could use toy or "play" food, or create pizzas with craft supplies. Supplies you could use include:
- a play cash register or a small box to use for collecting "money"
- play money - create your own or use the money from a board game
- small pizza boxes, if you have them
- bowls, pizza pans, play food, cups
- construction paper for creating craft pizzas
- yarn for the "cheese", different colored construction paper cut into a variety of shapes for the "toppings", glitter for sprinkling with "basil" or "red pepper flakes"...
- pencils, crayons, markers, glue
- paper to create a menu and for taking an order. You can purchase order pads and receipt books at an office supply store for an added "real" touch.
- telephone to "call in the order"
- table and tablecloth
- chalkboard and chalk to write out the daily specials
Looking to move beyond pretend play? Children are so eager to help and do grownup activities, that they're likely to want to join you in the kitchen as you prepare the real pizza meal. Depending on your children's individual ages, you can give them jobs of varying responsibility helping you cook. Whether it is helping you sprinkle the cheese, spread the sauce, kneed the pizza dough, measure and pour ingredients, or read the recipe with you, there is plenty for them to help with. Delicious fun!