The Animal Restaurant

With each new year, and new group of students, I’m always so fascinated to see what types of games the students create with one another. Sometimes it’s a classic game of tag or “cops and robbers” but more often it’s a game that they created from their own imaginations. This year, many of the students were interested in collecting seeds from around the nature playground. When asked why they were collecting the seeds, they responded that they were for the animals to eat at the animal restaurant.

Since that day, the children have been working diligently to create different confections for the animals to eat. Some children helped by gathering a variety of natural materials for the kitchen such as rain water, grass, sand from smashed rocks, wood chips, acorns, pine needles, dirt, rocks, and what they had decided are lemons (but are actually walnuts). Once the materials were gathered, they students took turns adding them to the concoction they were working on at the moment. Some days it has been a cake, other days it has been a stew or a salad.

As other children have been inspired to join in the fun, new animal kitchens have popped up around the nature playground as well. A new animal restaurant was created yesterday in what we refer to as the”mud kitchen”, except that this restaurant has a twist. The animals that eat the food from the mud kitchen gain special powers like rainbow powers and storm cloud powers. Animals that wish to dine in this restaurant can use their special power to ward off bad guys that they may encounter in the woods.


We are very excited to see where this game will take us in the following days or even weeks. Tomorrow we will be working on making signs for the restaurants. We will continue to observe the children working in their animal restaurants and hopefully we can find a way to turn this wonderfully imaginative play into a full-blown unit of study. We will keep you posted as the play progresses!

The Kitchen Game

Want a daily dose of mathematics in your child’s life? Add a play kitchen to your home. Ours inspired a child dubbed activity called, “The Kitchen Game.” It all began with a simple table setting. One child carefully laid out five bowls, four plates, and two cups. Thinking I would encourage him to practice some one-to-one counting, I asked, “How many people are coming to this party you are preparing?” He carefully counted plates around the table in a counter-clockwise fashion, double counting many of the same dishes. “Ten! Ten people are coming for dinner.” This taught me much about this child’s mathematical thinking and understanding of concepts such as one to one correspondence, estimating, and conservation of numbers.

P1050875A few moments later, the two chefs invited Mrs. Pless to join them for soup. Two other children noticed this new endeavor and decided help the restaurant out. In a whirlwind of cooking and flying paper, Mrs. Pless was instantly inundated with bills for services costing up to ten hundred eighty thousand. At one point a student kindly made a “pass” for Mrs. Pless so that her next meal would be free.  Needless to say, eventually Mrs. Pless ran out of “money.”

Child: We have a big collection of money.

Mrs. Forst: What if Mrs. Pless runs out of money?

Child: We make her pay. Mrs. Pless, do you have any money?

Mrs. Pless:  No, I’m broke.  You have all of my money.

Child:  You have to take it out of your bank account.

Mrs. Pless:  My bank account is empty.

Child: Too bad. You still have to pay.  [Maniacal laugh] Because we’re a bad restaurant.  No one’s going to want to come here!


I think I agree. This restaurant is a bit pricey.  However, look at all of the mathematical concepts they are sharing with us.  They already have some understanding of:

  • value
  • cost
  • banking
  • cash
  • numerals
  • quantities
  • a bill (that you have to pay)
  • a bill (a denomination of money)
  • currency
  • large numbers
  • the consequences of running an overly expensive restaurant (???)

In fact, I believe I might have encountered our next major credit card company founder.

Mrs. Forst: How much is an eggplant?

Child:  You have to pay $600 every month.  It changes.

Mrs. Forst: How long do I have to pay this?

Child:  106 days, but you have to pay everyday.

Did you see how the payments went up when I wasn’t paying attention? Classic.



My goodness! I hope you are hungry when you visit our classroom!  The dramatic play center has been re-invented with the simple addition of a basket of blank menus.  During a morning meeting last week, we talked about creating a dinosaur restaurant and realized we’d need two separate menus, one for carnivores and one for herbivores.  This sparked some interest in what other types restaurants we could open.  Some of the suggestions included well-known burger joints as well as menus devoted entirely to: tiger food, ice cream, bugs (I’m still unsure whether they meant food FOR bugs, or bugs to EAT), food for pets, fruit only fare, and even menus consisting entirely of candy.

Menu production began immediately and has continued with added gusto each day.  Here are the first two menus.  One includes prices while the other leaves it up to the customer to decide how much to pay.