make a craft: {the good food restaurant}

restaurant - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-coma restaurant is born! 

five star it may not be, nor is jamie oliver stopping by anytime soon {we think!} for the dishes we’re preparing, but it’s a space created wholly by observing and interacting in the natural play this space affords us. dramatic play kitchen areas so naturally lend themselves to this type of cooperative and interactive play that creating some simple props to assist in this play {as well as augmenting with some purchased “real” props}, our restaurant was created … and is in non-stop use!

so, how did we go about this?

here’s the general steps:

:: I spent a couple of days intently observing and listening to the conversations happening in this area — who was doing what, how were they doing it, what questions and conversations were happening. I interjected some terms here and there {“do you have a daily special?“, “can I take this order to-go?“, etc} to add another dimension to the play, but this was my time to just observe and understand.

:: our first order of business? a restaurant name! the conversation was guided by “what do you serve?” and so, {the good food restaurant} was born. and, who doesn’t want to eat “good food”, right?!

:: a menu was next on the list! the guiding question was “what do you serve?” elicited many responses but the consensus came back, time and again, to items enjoyed but also ones they felt were decadent (I adored the addition of cake and lemonade!).  as we talked about the food, we talked price: “what do you think someone would pay for this?” and numbers were kept easy and often the children would compare prices as we wrote all of this out (I took the role of transcriber as the discussions happened naturally, cooperatively and collaboratively).

good food restaurant menu - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com:: next, I took a laptop to the children and we chose the menu format and each clip-art. each menu is printed on an inkjet printer on card stock and I printed double sided  for ease
(do you need the template? send an email and let me know! contact form at the bottom of this post)

restaurant 3 - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

:: from there, our menu on the wall evolved — as well as a pocket to place the menu’s in. the menu contents was printed, cut and placed on a 12×18″ piece of construction paper, the pocket is a piece of cardstock folded into a pocket and attached to the construction paper with clear packing tape.

at our local office supply store, “guest check” pads were purchased for a small nominal amount. we re-purposed some smaller-sized clipboards to hold the pads, found a cup to put pencils in and even a stray calculator to aid in adding up the bill. a small hook was added to the play kitchen to hang the clipboard and aprons were sourced from other areas in the school and clearly have become the ‘uniform’ of choice when playing the role of waiter/waitress.

restaurant 2 - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

each prop and item has created a space guided completely by the children’s imagination. the play is so intentional, so meaningful and incredibly cooperative and collaborative. it is a joy to see the play evolve, the conversations and questions, the smiles and the heaps of laughter that seem to easily erupt in this space.

:: where will your play take you today? can observing and allowing your presence to be a bystander, and a recorder, allow the creation of a new space?

interested in having the menu template sent your way? be in touch below:


make a craft: flower word families

flower word families - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com. . . . . . . . . .

our writing corner is a popular space at our school. it is designed specifically for one person and is a language rich space to do some journaling, explore words and language, or simply take out a white-board and create what you need to.

recently we’ve been adding words and “word families” to the repertoire of sight and spoken words, specifically for our older children to incorporate into their journaling, but for everyone to experience. we find ourselves singing many “rhyming words” with claps, stomps and often much laughter. we find the rhythm of rhyming in our stories and poetry read during our days together, in our songs and chants during many chances to sing and dance.

Reading Rockets (a program of WETA) has a wonderful article on Phonelogical Awareness as well as the importance of the pre-reading skill of Rhyming Games. So why go through all this chanting and rhyming and general silliness over words like rat, hat, cat, mat, {and} pat? Well … it’s so vital and so important! Reading Rockets nicely states: “Developing a child’s phonological awareness is an important part of developing a reader. Young children’s ability to identify rhyme units is an important component of phonological awareness. Research shows that students benefit from direct instruction on rhyme recognition paired with fun activities that target this skill.”

and, so, we chant and march, we rhyme and clap … and we sing often very off-key (and enjoy each moment!) …
and we make flower word families together! 

:: make a craft: flower word families

:: brown paper bags
:: paper in varying colors (I used card stock and vellum because I had it on hand)
:: wooden popsicle sticks (I used ones 6 3/4 x 1/16″ found at a craft store)
:: scissors
:: markers
:: glue

how to: 
:: I used a 3 1/2″ punch-cutter for the flower center (it’s quicker than I can cut on my own) and free-hand cut the petals
:: I asked the children to help the assemby of the flowers — using tape to adhere the petals onto the flower, using markers to color the popsicle stick stems while I quickly cut flower-pot shapes out of a grocery store bag
:: once the flowers were assembled, I marked each with “_____ xx” for our word family “base” (in our case, we used “__ed” “__ap” “__op” “__ug”) and then asked the children to listen to the sound of the “base” and then asked if we could start rhyming (and entered each word spoken on the petals)

:: what language rich activity can you do today? have you marched and rhymed today? (try it … it’s such fun!) 

make a craft: seed books

seed book - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

we’re weaving into our days the continued exploration of our “things that grow” theme with experiencing so many wonderful seeds. and, yes, beyond the touching and the planting and observing the growth of a plant — the exploring the vast variety of seed types, shapes, and colors has been top of the list!

but, the question remained for us adults to mull over: how do you explore all seeds that we wanted to? larger seeds like beans, peas, sunflower, cucumber and even pumpkin, were seemingly easy because of their larger size. but what about lettuce, spinach, pepper, and the wonderful carrot? smaller in size and hard to wrangle over the long term, we just needed a way to explore these. {and touch and feel, compare and contrast, create hypothesis and observations as well}

and, so, we all took on a couple of formats of making many variety of seeds available:

:: our seed book

:: brown-paper bag book (I source them here  from a wonderful seller on etsy)
:: a variety of seed packages (I purchase them at the end of the season or use leftovers from our garden)
:: clear packaging tape
:: cardstock (I cut ours using a 3″ scalloped edge die-cast punch cutter)
:: tacky glue (I had this brand on hand and it worked beautifully)
:: marker of choice

:: (1) for each seed to showcase in the book, I used a two-page spread (seed packet and name on one page, seeds on the following page) and pre-determined how many pages I had to fill and cut out the cardstock circles in advance

. . . . . . . . . .

seed book 2 - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com:: (2) for each seed type, the seeds were glued to the cardstock circle: spread a thin layer of the craft glue onto the cardstock and apply the seeds

this is an optional step but makes the placement of the seeds far easier when assembling the book pages

{{do allow the glue to dry before moving to the next step}}

. . . . . . . . . .

seed book 3 - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

:: (3) assembly of the book is simple, but will test your skills with packaging tape
for each seed to be showcased:
: the seed packet was fully taped onto the left-side page
: the seeds on the cardstock circle were fully taped onto the right-side of the page spread
: the name of the seed was written above the seed packet

the results are a very simply and easy book  — but one that has already been studied, seeds compared, discussions spurred on with hypothesis, observation and so much more.

:: next up for our school? seed cards! we’re using 5×7″ chipboard to create the same format with seeds as we did the book, but instead making these seed-cards for the felt boards: to be explored on their own or in groups. 

related seed fun around the web:

make a craft: nature tic-tac-toe

nature tic tac toe outschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

many of the items we have in our discovery areas are ones we make, or have been made for us, and our nature tic-tac-toe board is no exception. the materials were very simple to source (all from our local craft store) and the painting was enthusiastically done by the children in our art studio.


the “pieces” are wooden craft wheels, but lend themselves in both shape and size to our needs. the paints are  a water-based acrylic making them easy to both apply and wash off fingers (and hands and the occasional elbow!). the base of the game is a round piece of simple balsa-wood that was painted and the tic-tac-toe board was drawn with the help of an adult. for ease, we used stickers for the two sets of game pieces (sunflower and bumble bee) but the possibilities are truly endless.


total cost for all the materials was under $10. but the cost isn’t the main factor in creating materials like this to discover and use. it is the working together, creating something for us all, together … and the process — not always the product — of tasks and creations and time together that is our focus.

the pieces are now often used to create patterns, or they might find their way to the block area to add to a building, or a castle or a creation that needs something just a little extra. the games played are sometimes tic-tac-toe … and sometimes we see how far the pieces can roll along with a simple push or a million other variations that fit the place and space we’re in at the moment.

enjoy your own creations – and the journey of embracing the act of creating, not always just the final product. 
: : :   : : :   : : : 
for more ideas on creating tic-tac-toe games, visit these blogs for inspiration:
:: Travel Tic Tac Toe Game from dandee-designs
:: Refrigerator Tic Tac Toe from Artzy Creations
:: Spring Time Tic Tac Toe from Chicken Scratch
:: Yard Tic Tac Toe from Holly’s Arts and Crafts Corner