This ice cream shop dramatic pretend play setup is a hit with my children! They love imaginative play and are stoked to have their very own ice cream cart! Which child doesn’t like ice cream? Children will love to role play as an ice cream seller anytime! This is a perfect invitation for children to play, learn, have fun and enjoy good conversations!
Many parents think that dramatic pretend play setups must be elaborate and require a lot of intensive preparation work eg. search and print out labels and printables. They’d rather purchase ice cream toy sets for their children. Here, I’m going to show you an simple DIY pretend play ice cream shop that is relatively low prep, doesn’t cost you a bomb yet still fun and filled with many learning opportunities for your children.
I told the kids they have to be involved in the set up, they were up for the challenge!
Step 1: Brainstorm and plan with your children
I gave prompts and guided the children to share what they usually see at an ice cream store, and we came up with a list of things that they want to include in their own store:
- Cash register
- Ice cream in different flavours: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla
- Optional: toppings, order forms, bottles of sauces etc
Step 2: Assign roles and get the children to gather all their toys
Look around the house for toys that the children already own:
- Toy cups and bowls
- Pom Poms
- Scoops from the kitchen
- Cardstock for making cones, recycled box as a cone holder
- Cardboard for making signs, menu and labels (you don’t need any printable!) We used a small black board and chalk for the menu.
- Coins and old credit cards (You can use a tray with compartments as the cash register)
Step 3: Engage the children in colouring, writing, folding, cutting, assembling etc
There were plenty of learning opportunities for the children when they are involved in the preparation process:
By asking open-ended questions, the kids are encouraged to think out of the box, problem solve to meet objectives, sequence the setup in a step-by-step process.
While preparing the pom pom ice cream, my girl C learns to sort the pom poms according to colours, and she did this for a good 5 minutes, as compared to the usual 5 seconds!
As my son wrote out the menu and labels, he is unknowingly practising his handwriting, spelling, phonics and fine motor skills!
Instead of purchasing ice cream cones, we made them on our own! In the process, my son D learns about turning 2D shapes (semi-circle) into 3D objects (cone) We also added prices to the ice cream so he gets to practise his addition and subtraction. My younger girl revised basic numeracy eg 1, 2, 3 scoops!
The children made sure their store was neat so that their “customers” would return, they diligently used the broom to sweep and clean up spills, they learn to be responsible when assigned duties (cashier, cleaner, waitress, etc)
CREATIVITY, PROBLEM SOLVING, TEAM WORK, SHARING
Interestingly, the kids were the ones who create their own problems during the pretend play session. “No more chocolate ice cream!” “We need a bigger cup because there are 3 scoops!” Sometimes they messed up my orders, and this trains their memory and listening skills. They also have to work together to “close” the store in time. In addition, the children need to cooperate with each other and share the limited resources available in their store.
PLAY BASED LEARNING
This ice cream pretend play shop is a child-led activity and the kids take pride in their work because they created it themselves. It took us about 30 minutes to get everything set up, but more importantly, it was good bonding between me and the kids. I strongly urge you to try this low preparation ice cream pretend play with your children!
If you are keen to engage your children in more ice cream related activities: do check out the activities by Happy Tot Shelf and The Simple Parent. If you have more time and would like to print out beautiful printables and labels, I love the ones from Little Lifelong Learners.
Like this easy ice cream setup? Share this with a fellow mummy! Or organize ice cream play dates!
Pretend Play is extremely beneficial for young children, and is an essential part of their early years. To learn more about how play can benefit your children, join the free Positive Parenting Learning Series here!