Squidge flipping her pancake in the Pancake Cafe Role Play

Pancake Cafe Role Play

With Pancake Day just around the corner and Pancakes being one of our favourite treats at any time of year, a Pancake Cafe was an easy option to introduce some role play into Squidge & Boo’s kitchen. Role play is something children develop quite naturally in their play. During pretend play you’ll hear them imitate what they see around them at home or on television. They can mimic actions, mannerisms, voices with intonation and phrases with near perfect accuracy. Sometimes with hilarious results!

There are a couple of key ways you can help your child to develop language through role play at home. The first is to play with them. Involving your child in a two-way conversation where you are both in role is very powerful. By being in role they have the freedom to try words and phrases they wouldn’t usually use. They can be whoever they want to be and often show more confidence than they would in real life situations. Involving yourself in their play, giving them responses, developing scenarios through interaction, encourages their thinking. They also have opportunities to empathise with different characters.  Another way to enhance role play and the language opportunities they create is to add props to create specific scenes and settings.

We have had a play kitchen since Squidge’s first birthday, Knowing the value in imitation play for a long time it was on my must-have toys list early on. Our original little kitchen was moved out to the Wendy House during it’s summer makeover. Luckily, Santa brought us our new kitchen and lots of wooden accessories this Christmas. Our play kitchen seems to get played with in bursts, it’s either in constant use or gathering dust. As it’s lustre seemed to have lulled a little now it’s no longer new, I decided that adding some extra bits was a good way to entice the girls back to it.

Pancake Cafe Role Play set up and ready to play.For our Pancake Cafe I added:

  • Empty kinder eggs – they are fantastic when pretending to crack them open.
  • Milk – Water and white paint mix in an old vanilla essence bottle (glued shut!)
  • Bluberries and Strawberries – simple shapes cut from felt
  • Sprinkles – fancy paper straws, cut into small pieces all in an empty oil bottle
  • Pancakes and syrup – also cut from felt, inside an empty tea bag box
  • Squidge’s apron & hat
  • A sign ‘Squidge & Boo’s Pancake Cafe’
  • A menu – one on the window and a paper one on the table. The menu included really simple prices so Squidge could ask for the right amount.

 

As soon as I started putting together the bits and pieces Squidge was excited and wanted to play. I like to make the bits while she’s there to see, as that way she can see the effort that’s been put in so she’s more likely to look after it. She also gets to see how simple it can be to make your own things to pretend with.

Once everything was in place, Squidge decided she would be a customer first and I could be the chef. I donned the hat (as best as I could, it isn’t very big!), took her order and like any good waitress, I up sold the drinks. I modelled how to use all the things I’d added to her kitchen, cracking the kinder eggs, pouring in milk and flour before twirling the whisk. I fried the felt pancakes and topped them with her choices. I brought her and Boo fresh tea and then served their delicious fake pancakes.

Squidge and Boo enjoying their pancakes in the Pancake Cafe Role Play

Squidge was certainly on board with the whole charade and tipped the contents of her plate down her jumper – into her tummy of course! I had already totted up her bill and charged her appropriately, or not, as the prices are a little extortionate with everything increasing by £1 for simplicity!

Once the plates were cleared Squidge couldn’t wait to get started as the chef. She took mine and Boo’s orders and set to work in the kitchen. She cooked up a storm and narrated her actions as she did so. I love watching this type of play unfold. I caught a few bits on film and put them on my Insta stories. She really was entertaining. ‘Oh no, why won’t my eggs crack?!’, ‘Do you want strawberries and blueberries too, it’ll be super yummy’.

Squidge showing off her pancake and toppings in the Pancake Cafe Role Play
Showing off her ‘Super yummy’ creation!

When asking how much things were from the menu, Squidge was carefully looking down the list to try give me the right price. We added simple pictures so she could find the right items herself.

Having words on objects wherever possible is a great way to introduce and encourage early ‘reading’. By that I mean, Squidge can see that the object is milk, therefore she knows the word on the side says ‘Milk’. She can play at reading this word, but it’s also going to become more recognisable as she sees it more often. Soon she’ll spot the same word on an actual milk bottle, then in the supermarket. She may also pick out the initial letter and sound and transfer this to other things. We’ve been playing with initial sounds a lot lately – but that could be a whole post in itself.

Squidge loved this game and insisted Daddy play with her when he got home from work. He happily obliged, parking himself on the tiny chair and pouring himself a pretend tea while she put sprinkles on his pancake. A memory I’ll certainly treasure. We’ve played again today after having real pancakes for breakfast. I’m certain we’ll keep up the momentum for a few more days. I may add a notepad next so Squidge can write down her orders.

We did do a little bit of addition together to add up prices. This and the writing are certainly ways you can develop this play for slightly older children. Another idea you could try would be to write recipes for the chef to follow, including the steps to make the pancakes and specific numbers for the toppings. This would lead nicely into following real recipes and creating their own versions.

What types of role play do your children enjoy? Have you got into character with them? How did it go, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading, love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

If you liked this post you might also enjoy Squidge and Boo’s self-chosen investigation ‘You gotta roll with it’

 

My first book of dinosaurs front cover

My First Book of Dinosaurs by Mike Unwin

This book is on loan from the local library, we go on a fairly regular basis. Our library does a free weekly craft session that we’ve attended a few times and enjoyed. If you have a local library and you haven’t been with your littles yet, I must insist you go!

We decided to borrow this book as Squidge and I didn’t really know many of the names for our collection of dinosaurs. We knew the more obvious ones like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Diplodocus but after that we were struggling. Rather than searching the glorious internet I thought we had the perfect opportunity for some good old fashioned style research.

There were a few dinosaur books to choose from, but this one seemed to be the best choice for us as it has a really simple layout, with just enough information for Squidge to digest and a really handy phonetic spelling of each dinosaur name for me.

The illustrations prompted Squidge to go get her dinosaurs from the shelf to match up to some of the ones in the book. After we’d read it, I could see she’d retained some of what she’d found out while watching her play, she kept using the T-Rex to eat all the small her small dinosaurs!

I think we’ll definitely borrow some more dinosaur books on our next library visit to see what else we can find out.

Squidge says: “It’s good, it tells me about Dinosaurs”.

Suitability: Ages 3-10 years

Length: 10 minutes

Related topics: History, Animals, Living things, Food chains

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

ISBN 978 1 4729 0545 1

 

 

Dinosaur Activity

In the introduction to the book the author explains that Scientists know what dinosaurs looked like from looking at fossils. As Squidge has never heard of or seen a fossil before I thought a good activity would be to make some of our own.

To make our Dinosaur Fossils we used salt dough, which is really simple to make. All you need is one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and splashes of water until it forms a dough (just over half a cup). We rolled out the dough and cut circles ready to imprint with our dinosaurs. Once we had a tray full we baked them in the oven on the lowest setting for around an hour, turning them half way through. Both Squidge and Boo enjoyed this activity. As a follow on, I plan to bury them outside in the sandpit, then we can go searching for them with paintbrushes like real Archaeologists!

Before reading this book we’ve played Dinosaur Land many, many times and the photos have featured on our Instagram page. If you’re not following us there yet, I’ve included a photo here. You can have a peep at our Instagram feed in the sidebar and find us at @squidgeandboo.

Squidge playing dinosaur land

It’s really simple to set up as a small world activity. We used storage tubs stacked up and covered over with material for our mountains, shiny material for a lake and the rocks and trees that came in our tub of dinosaurs. Our Ikea rug already looks like grass which is very handy for lots of different types of play. Small world play is always a sure fire way to promote lots of language.

Happy reading!

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

Front cover of Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson is my all time favourite children’s author. Her books never fail to entertain. I’d already built up quite a collection, throughout my teaching before Squidge arrived. Be warned, this fabulous author will keep popping up on the Squidge and Boo Bookshelf!

Stick Man was one of the books we bought for the girls this Christmas, which turned out to be good timing as the animated version (which they both love) was released. We got a copy with an Audio CD. The CD features the story read by Imelda Staunton, an action game, The Stick Man song & an instrumental version, plus a read-along version of the story.

The story goes that Stick Man gets picked up and used by various characters, taking him further and further away from the family tree and his beloved Stick family. It includes a repeated refrain as Stick Man tries to explain he’s not just a stick. This gives children a great opportunity to join in the retelling of the story. It’s a good hook if you choose to recreate the story through role play too.

Donaldson’s rhythm and rhyme throughout the story keep it upbeat and lively (even when poor Stick Man is in dire straights laid on top of a fire grate!). Her way with words combined with Axel Sheffler’s beautiful cartoon like drawings make the story one that Squidge reaches for time and again.

Stick Man inside pages

Squidge says: “I like the bit with the Swan. It’s exciting”.

Suitability: Ages 4 – 8 years

Length: 10 minutes

Related topics: Being lost, family, nature, imagination, Christmas

Published by Alison Green Books

ISBN 978 1 407117 29 4

 

Stick Man Activity

Now I can’t really claim credit for this one as it was a self-chosen activity from Squidge. We had the paints out and she decided she wanted to paint the stick man. We’d already begun a collaborative painting (inspired by one of the awesome Instagrammers – I really need to start taking notes on names of where I get these ideas!). I’d shown Squidge how to do a wash for the background of her picture. She painted the grass while I did the sky.

This is when she decided her picture was going to be of the Stick Man. We had a look in the book and she chose to paint the family tree. We continued to work together, Squidge giving directions on which parts I should paint and completing the bits she wanted to do herself. Squidge painting her Stick Man picture

This way of creating a picture was really good, both Squidge and I enjoyed it. It naturally encouraged a lot of language use. It also meant that Squidge ended up with a picture similar to the one she had planned out in her head, avoiding any frustration with bits she ‘couldn’t’ do. It’s definitely something we’ll do again in future. I hope it will help her build confidence in her art skills.

Another activity you might like to try is going on a Stick Man hunt. We’ve searched several times on our walks for a near perfectly shaped stick, but we’re yet to find one. When we have come home without one, Squidge is happy that he must be hiding safely in the family tree.

There’s also a nod to Pooh sticks in the book – this one be another good one to try!

What’s your favourite Julia Donaldson story?

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

Have you read our review of ‘Penguin’ by Polly Dunbar?

Penguin by Polly Dunbar

Hello and welcome to the first in my new series for ‘The Bookshelf’. It will be filled with quick reviews and a simple follow up activity you might like to try with your little people. Hope you enjoy!

A personal favourite of mine, whigh has spent some time on the ‘every night’ list for Squidge and Daddy likes because it’s nice and short! Penguin is a brilliant book. It is all about a little boy, Ben, who tries everything to get his toy Penguin to talk to him. He gets more annoyed as his attempts fail until along comes a lion and gobbles him up for being too noisy. Penguin steps up and saves the day. There’s a nice opportunity to shout on one page – which can gaurantee a laugh from Squidge.

The illustrations in this book are simple and delightful. There’s enough within the picture to introduce talking points with your little one. How do you think Ben feels here? (pointing to his face) Why might he feel that way? 

I recommend this as a class story for anyone with a particularly shy or elective mute child in their class. It is a great way of indirectly talking about how someone will talk when they are ready to, no tricks or attempts to force them will work!

Squidge says: ‘It’s really, really funny when he does the dancing and this (raspberry blowing)”

Suitability: Ages 3-8 years

Length: 5-7 minutes

Related topics: Shyness, bravery, friendship, feelings

Published by Walker Books

ISBN 978 1 4063 1246 1

Happy reading!

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

 

 

Penguin Activity

Aa a follow-up activity for Penguin we did a simple sticking activity. I pre-cut pieces to make up 3 penguins, each one a different size. Three bodies, three white bellies, three pairs of eyes and three beaks. Having three different sizes meant Squidge had to complete some simple size ordering. Using PVA glue and a paint brush meant we also got some fine motor in there.

I did set one up for Boo, but she wasn’t really interested – she’s still a bit little. Once Squidge had finished sticking her Penguins together, we got out some white paint and she used a finger to splot on lots of falling snow.

This activity took around 5-10 minutes to set up and 35 minutes for Squidge to complete (she was incredibly thorough with her gluing!).

I really like the lettering for the title of Penguin, another activity you could try  with this idea would be to collage the letters of their name with lots of different medias.

Have you read this one? Will you give our Penguin activity a try? Let us know in the comments below 🙂 C, S & B xxx

If you enjoyed this post check out this activity inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar 🙂

This post has been linked up with #KLTR, a great linky where you can find lots of other posts which encourage children to read

Laura's Lovely Blog

Valentine’s Sensory Tub

Messy play is always lots of fun, though the thought of it may fill you with dread. I’d say the easiest place to start is dried foods as they’re really easy to clean up. For this ‘Valentines Messy Play’ we used plain rolled oats and some coloured rice, to create a contrast in colours and textures.

I’ve tried a couple of ways to colour rice and by far the most successful way for us has been to put white rice into a tub with a squirt of hand sanitizer (alcohol based – making this non-edible) and a reasonable sized glug of food colouring. Give it a shake, then leave out on greaseproof paper to dry. In a warm room it’ll only take a couple of hours to dry out. If you’re just using the coloured rice you’ll be able to store and re-use it over and over.

Before starting the activity Squidge and I shared a story that links well to our Valentines theme, ‘Pig in Love’ by Vivian French and Tim Archbold. The story tells the tale of a Pig who falls in love with the lovely Piggie. In the beginning, he brings her lots and lots of roses, she is smitten, but Pig must prove his love to her Father before he’s allowed her hand in marriage. Will they end up together?

When setting up the messy play tray I added two pigs and some small bunches of paper craft roses so that Squidge could reenact the story if she wanted.

 

Once the tray was out, Boo was the first in swishing the red rice with a mini whisk. She spotted the buttons and kept pulling them out to show me “Look”. Squidge took a little longer considering which of the utensils she wanted to use. She chose to scoop and pour with the spoon. I initiated a conversation with the pigs, Squidge humored me and joined in playing Piggie. However she clearly wanted to explore the materials.

 After scooping and pouring for a while, Squidge began to fill the boat. She patted down the oats for her ‘boat cake’ each time. Boo joined her play, filling the chimney of the boat. They worked together happily until Boo upturned the boat to empty it again. Squidge didn’t protest too much and just begun filling and patting again.

It’s funny listening to Squidge trying to instruct Boo on how to play, her voice goes up an octave which makes me wonder if she’s picked that up from me. I’m glad that she’s encouraging rather than telling off. We’re currently working hard on ‘sharing’. Squidge can find it difficult if Boo wants to join her mid game, particularly in role play as Boo isn’t quite at the level to talk and follow her lead yet.

Boo, as ever, was first to climb into the tub. She grabbed handfuls of rice and oats and sprinkled them back into the tray. A few stray bits landed on the floor, making a kind of tinkly sound, cue Boo dropping handfuls straight to the floor instead of in the tray! Squidge was next in the tray, copying Boo and dropping handfuls, but letting them land on her outstretched foot and hand. Eventually both girls were in the tray

This play lasted for a good 25 minutes. It was everywhere when they’d finished, but Squidge was on hand for clean-up duty, helping me to sweep. The tray, though now mixed, is still full ready for another days’ play.

What activities have you got planned in the lead up to Valentines? Do you fancy giving messy play a try?

Lots of love Cat, Squidge and Boo