The dramatic play center is the perfect place for young children to “play to learn.” Most basic home living centers are a kitchen, with play food, dishes, babies, dress-up clothes, and a phone. With a few additions, it is easy to transform it into something extra special. This Sandwich Shop is a great dramatic play center to introduce early on in the year. It’s fairly simple, and a nice transition from the basic kitchen. It also incorporates very easily into units on nutrition and health.
Welcome to the Sandwich Shop!
Plenty of signs and labels are a great way to foster literacy development. An open and closed sign at the entrance introduces these common words. Many restaurant-themed dramatic play centers have menus, but the wall menu is less complicated for younger students.
The customers at the Sandwich Shop go through the line and tell the sandwich makers what they would like to eat! There are 2 types of bread – sandwich bread and sub rolls. Then they add their meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments. (All pictured sandwich supplies are from the Melissa & Doug Sandwich set, but a crafty educator could easily make felt or foam pieces!) When the sandwich is finished, the customer takes it to the cashier to pay for the meal.
Part of the learning that takes place at the dramatic play center is learning that words have meaning. Students also practice important matching and sorting skills when they put their things away.
Use a “double label system” to keep it neat. Place one label on the inside of the basket (because it will be empty at some point) and place an identical label on the table or shelf spot where the basket belongs.
Sandwich Shop Drink Machine
Every fast food restaurant needs a fountain drink machine, right? The sandwich shop is no exception. It is quite possible to create one using a bookshelf (for examples, see these links for the drink machine for a Taco Stand.) For reusability and portability, this cardboard box version can be an economical solution!
Changing the Dramatic Play Center
Changing up the dramatic play area serves several purposes. It takes a little bit of work, but making some changes periodically help keep the students interest. Not only that, but giving the students the opportunity to play different roles gives them a wealth of educational experiences. New literacy opportunities come with each change as well, with fresh new words and things to write. It’s like getting a whole new classroom with only a few small changes!
(And just in case you’re tricked into thinking everything always goes exactly according to plan at Play to Learn Preschool, here’s a little shot of how we found the kitchen one day after the students “cleaned it all up” for us! Just keepin’ it real, folks!)