Tag Archives: pretend play

Pretend Play Restaurant



Here’s a follow-up activity for using fake food…or real food! Create a pretend restaurant!

This was one of my absolute favorite games as a kid – my mom would let us be the waiters/waitresses for a typical weeknight dinner at home, and I remember it as being the coolest because there was actual, real food involved. My mom knew how the simplest things could make a kid feel special and important.

So, Pen Elaine and I created a restaurant together, and she absolutely loved the power of being the waitress, ha! First order of business, she named her restaurant so that we could decorate a sign to be hung on the door for Daddy to see when he got home from work for dinner. She, naturally, named her restaurant “Elsa’s Café.” She colored the poster with crayons, and we had some extra food stickers from a “Melissa and Doug” create-a-placemat set, which seemed appropriate. Then, I pulled out a pretty little notebook to function as the menu. Based on what we were having for dinner, I drew pictures with the words for the items available for dinner, plus I drew three different glasses filled with each drink option (water, tea, or milk). So, when Pen Elaine took Daddy’s order, as the waitress, she could circle what he chose. (She re-used this menu several times over the following week to take drink orders at lunch or other dinners, but oftentimes, she wanted to talk folks into whatever drink she really wanted to circle…”I think you want milk to drink…” She was a little confused about the waitress’s role to simply take orders and not actually give them.) For some added flair, Pen Elaine wore an apron as the waitress. Having such a special job made Pen Elaine extra enthusiastic with helping set the table and get dinner on the table. This is a very fun, easy activity that my mom passed down that is a favorite!


Mommy & Me class: Pretend Play with Fake Food



Pretend play is so important for young children – they need time and space to imagine and practice what they are figuring out in “real” life. It is easy to fill up their time with structured activities, commitments, and get caught up with our own schedules so much that we start dragging our kids through each step and “job” of the day. One of my recent resolutions has been to give Pen Elaine some play time (that includes me) before making her complete her morning “jobs” of getting dressed and making her bed, even if I still have a kitchen to clean up or breakfast dishes to put away. This does not and cannot happen every day, but it is at least on my radar and a goal for most days. However, I know making time for children is important since Jesus Christ said that He was not too busy to hold them, touch them, pray over them. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

Sometimes a craft project can help lead to more pretend play or more intentional pretend play. Pretend play with food can be a fun time to practice table manners, thinking of other people, using proper utensils, and having mealtime conversations, to get the ball rolling.

I saw these tantalizing play food creations from oneperfectdayblog and really wanted to attempt our own. Ours didn’t turn out looking too much like actual food…although Snugly Man was fooled, as captured in the top photo!

Only supplies needed: sponges from the dollar store, paint & paintbrush, some glue optional

Pen Elaine enjoyed painting and stacking these “slices” of sponges to create a piece of cake and “cookies” (that kinda look like cupcakes…?).




We also made paper pizzas (to look like one by Looksissquare via Pinterest) – it’s on the bottom in this last pic, we cut out the “dough,” “sauce,” “cheese,” and an assortment of toppings such as peppers, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, meatballs, etc. These could’ve been made with felt to be more durable for creating many times over.




Homemade “Tigerlily” Headdress

Homemade “Tigerlily” Headdress


Pen Elaine is in dress-up clothes 90% of the time. We watched Peter Pan for the first time over the summer, so dressing up like the little Indian princess, Tigerlily, was a must-do. Instead of the cheap old way of making an “Indian” headband with construction paper feathers, I pulled out my stash of craft store (pink) feathers, two felt scraps, a bit of twine, plus scissors & glue.



For more durability, Pen Elaine got to glue the feathers between two long strips of felt, then I cut little holes close to each end for tying some twine on each side, to be tied together when fitted on her little head.

Later, I sacrificed an old pillowcase to be her “dress.” I cut a head hole and two arm holes, then cut strips on the bottom to create “fringe.” Done!


homemade tiger lily costume

{quick} Paper plate crown




We have been utilizing my pack of like one thousand paper plates lately, and this one was a hit. I cut diagonal lines across the interior of the plate, leaving most of the rim intact. Then, we bent down the resulting triangles and fit it to Pen Elaine’s head specifications. We actually made these as a play date activity; these were a cinch for managing multiple kids’ crowns.

Decorating included crayons, fairy stickers, and a sparkly letter “P” from an alphabet sticker set. When one of the cuts got ripped a little too far, some tape patched things up just fine. Somewhere on Pinterest, I saw where someone glued pom-poms to the points, which was really cute and made me want to make another crown, but our version did not require any mess or hot glue 😉



Advent activity: Angel pretend play


This has been one of my favorite advent activities, probably in part because it is rather girly, by today’s social norms, but could be easily tweaked to be more boy-centered.
I wrapped up a costume we already owned that was white and shiny, along with a white, stretchy headband, to be an angel costume! When Pen Elaine opened it, I informed her that it was an angel costume, so she could give her message to Mary and Joseph, to be played by myself and Daddy. She, of course, was eager to dress up and ready to tell us, “Do not be afraid!” She has been learning all month about the angel telling Mary that she would have a baby, and Pen Elaine even told me (as Mary) that there is a baby in my womb, since my very large belly actually does contain her new baby brother in my womb…This was really fun practice for her knowing the Christmas story. We moved on next to the shepherds and the angel’s message for them.

Next time we play this activity, I think I would bring out the Bible and coach what the angels actually say for Pen Elaine to have more guidance and bring home the true events and the fact that these are real events from God’s Word. With a boy on the way, we may include shepherds or wise men next year, or have a tough lesson on the male-sounding nature of the actual angels involved in Christ’s birth… This year was really fun and relaxed though, and quickly turning into Pen Elaine flying up and down the room and adding costume pieces lying around, such as a lion hat and doctor kit, treating her Daddy/”Joseph” for some imagined ailment.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord….”Luke 2:10-11 NASB



Toddler Mommas

Toddler Mommas

It is often said that Play is the work of children, but children’s play is also a window into their world, so it should also be the work of parents…in some ways. In fact, play is used to study all areas of development in kids, especially during the preschool years. I was previously involved in a study that looked at many things, one being attachment security in 4 and 5-year-olds, using pretend play. The Attachment Story Completion Task, largely started by Inge Bretherton, gives kids the beginning of a scenario using a family of dolls, and asks the child to show “what happens next.” For instance, the little boy spills his milk at the dinner table, what happens next? We can learn a lot about what kind of representation the child has of parent-child relationships and how secure of an attachment he/she has to his/her own parents by how the child completes the story. As a mommy, the words that come out of Pen Elaine’s mouth sometimes give me a bit of insight into what she is hearing me say all the time and what tone of voice she hears me using. We’ve all had those cringe moments when we realize that maybe I need to be more careful with my words!



I was thinking some of this over after getting to watch my Pen Elaine and my niece, Bluebonnet, play with baby dolls. They were fussing about whose baby doll was whose or something like that, so I distracted by making make-shift baby slings. They loved it and were the cutest things ever! They took good care of their babies, like good little mommas 🙂 We have a new baby on the way, so it’s fun to practice some things in preparation for a new baby in the house, and that give way to talking about the baby. We’ve been really enjoying the Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, especially since we happened to have been reading it right before we switched Pen Elaine from a crib to a big girl bed. Big times. Talking things over is a good thing, even when it seems like I’m not quite getting through, but “playing” things over is even better!


In Wonder of Imagination and Pretend

In Wonder of Imagination and Pretend


This past week, one of my most exciting moments as a parent occurred! Pen Elaine was drawing with chalk when she told me she was drawing “daddy,” then “mommy,” then “Poppy” (which is what she calls herself). I was so thrilled that,
1, she spontaneously labeled what she was coloring, which is a big leap from barely scribbling just months ago, it seems, and
2, she drew our family! Her little person of creativity and imagination decided to draw our family, purposefully and with vigor.
For the first time that I am aware, there was clear and planned meaning to her artistic endeavors! My little girl, not yet but very close to two, drew her daddy, myself, and a self portrait…of course, I immediately took a picture to document her budding genius.
She has been showing clear development in imagination and pretending over the past few weeks, and it is just so dang exciting; I can’t help it! She has also been recently turning her string cheese into a mommy and child during lunch/dinner; the two pieces of cheese start talking to each other in squeaky little voices about finding each other or hugging or whatever. The mommy is always a big chunk while the baby is just a sliver of peeled-off cheese; it is quite entertaining until they get eaten by Pen Elaine. I wrote about the value of pretend play on a previous post.
The day after the big family drawing excitement, Pen Elaine drew Daddy on the driveway with chalk, so that, of course, is photographed below- enjoy 🙂