Dramatic Play - Restaurant

Chef from Pixabay.comchef

chef with soup ladle


The dramatic play center provides opportunities for students to collaborate, engage in learning, and build language skills through conversations.  Children have the opportunity to role play real-life experiences by taking on many roles in imaginative play. Utilization of the space as a restaurant encourages students to take roles as a chef, waiter/waitress or customer, and explore experiences in relation to these roles.  Students are setting the table, taking orders, preparing food and using money to pay for their food. Children engage in taking turns with peers and developing vocabulary through interactions with one another.  Variations to this center could include: restaurant, pizzeria, ice-cream shop, deli, etc.


  • fine motor skills with preparation of food and handling of money 
  • math skills with the calculation of costs of the meal and exchange of money
  • sorting of food by color, size or type
  • decision making opportunities 
  • writing opportunities to write order of customer
  • expression of artistic ability through drawing of food 
  • print exposure to names of food with labels on food and on menu
  • language opportunities by using telephone to take orders and to order food
  • reading opportunities with exposure to variety of restaurant related books in center
  • expression of feelings and emotions
  • creativity, imagination, abstract thinking
  • oral communication, vocabulary 
  • cooperation, sharing, taking turns

Suggested Materials

  • place mat for model of how to set the table for customers
  • menu for list of food items available for purchase (may include picture, word and price)
  • variety of play food
  • play dishes, utensils, pots and pans
  • cash register with play money
  • baskets, shelves or other materials for keeping food
  • play stove, oven, sink, refrigerator, microwave
  • chef hat and apron, apron for waiter/waitress
  • oven mittens, etc. to be used for handling "hot" items from oven
  • tables and chairs for guests to sit and eat
  • baby doll and highchair for baby to sit and eat at table 
  • pretend flowers with vase for the table
  • cardboard pizza box for carryout orders (if pizzeria) or other carryout materials
  • telephone
  • sign identifying restaurant open or closed
  • writing utensils
  • paper, clipboards, notepads to take order of customers
  • reading materials - restaurant related books in center, including nonfiction and fiction

Questioning Examples

These guiding questions can be used to assist the teacher, instructional assistant, or parent volunteers in supporting children's development and learning during play.

  • Why did you choose that food to order? What do you like about it?
  • Do you like to be the customer, the waiter/waitress or chef in this center? Why?
  • Where did all of this food come from? How can you get more if you need it?
  • What kind of restaurant would like to open?
  • What will you do with the money you make from your job? 


This center can be set up with the following areas included: area for customers to sit and eat (tables, chairs, place mats, menus, dishes), kitchen area for chef to prepare food (play oven, stove, sink, refrigerator, microwave, food, pots and pans),  cash register with telephone area for waiter/waitress to take orders and ring up orders. A basket/tote with books about restaurants should also be in the center for students to explore. In addition, supply writing prompt papers for waiter/waitresses to have the opportunity to write the order of the customer and/or a drawing of the order (see attached prompt). Also, encourage children to try different roles of customer, waiter/waitress or chef at the restaurant. 

This center should allow for enough space for at least three students to play with the furniture and props.  The dramatic play center should be located in an area of the room that enables students to communicate without disrupting other children's work and play.

Photo Examples

Literature Connections

Many literature connections exist for this topic and can be read to students before introduction of the center or during learning of the theme of restaurant. These books can also be placed in the restaurant center for independent exploration by the children. The following are a few suggestions:

"Froggy Eats Out" by Jonathan London

"I Have a Restaurant" by Ryan Afromsky

"Chef (People Who Help Us)" by Amanda Askew

"Llama Llama Yum, Yum, Yum!" by Anna Dewdney

"If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant" by Ellen Fischer

"Pizza at Sally's" by Monica Wellington

"Waiter! Waiter!" by Leslie Falconer

"The Berenstain Bears Go Out to Eat" by Jan and Mike Berenstain

"I Want to Be a Chef" by Dan Liebman

"Clive is a Waiter" by Jessica Spanyol

Downloadable Resources

This is a center sign to be used at the restaurant.

This is writing prompt for writing and illustrating the customer's order at the restaurant.

Download: Restaurant Center Writing Prompt

Clip art credit: www.Pixabay.com

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