One of my daughters favourite places to visit is a café – not a particular café, any one will do, so long as they have “a little treat” for her to munch on! And who can blame her?! Recently we had a couple of friends of hers over to play who I know also love a trip to the café, so I decided to make a simple café role play set up for the three of them to play with.
Kitchen and Counter Area
We moved T’s little desk and chairs out into the middle of the room to give it a café feel. Before they had started playing I’d made a little menu listing some of the items T has amongst her play food.
Once the children had placed their ‘orders’, whoever was being the ‘café owner’ returned to the kitchen to prepare the food, before serving it at the table!
The kids had great fun visiting their ‘café’! It’s such an easy set-up too; the only thing that needed any extra preparation was the menu which just took a few minutes. If you were to do a similar set up for older children (4-7), you could include more complex menu suggestions; prices on the menu to encourage them to find the right amount of money; and slips of paper for them to create receipts. They could also create their own menus for use in the café.
Role play is great for developing imagination, language and children’s understanding of the world around them. The till brings in a mathematical aspect by bringing in the language of number. Children also learn to identify numbers on the coins they use. The inclusion of the menu helps them to understand that print carries meaning, and when they are ready, they will also begin to recognise letters and words. Role play also benefits their social development, as they learn to play in groups (i.e. with, not just near, their peers), and as they listen and respond to what each other say.