“Mr. Bear, you said you wanted ice cream ON your spaghetti?” says a 5-year old scribbling on a piece of paper at his Little Italy Restaurant. “Maybe some carrots, too?”
Pay close attention when children say “Let’s pretend!” and you’ll discover their joy in practicing life skills that will carry them into adulthood. Imaginative play rules the day in children’s lives. They love their kid-size props, from old hats and clothes to funny items in the junk drawer.
Here’s how you can transform glue, string, paint and other craft items into a menu of play food to satisfy your child’s love of creativity — and Mr. Bear’s appetite! And why not test that creativity on the family too, on April Fools’ Day?
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
Cut several 16-inch lengths of white string for the “spaghetti.” Squeeze white glue into a sandwich bag, drop the string into the glue, then pull out each length one by one, clearing off most of the glue with your fingers. Swirl the string round and round to form a mound on a sturdy, plastic or paper plate. Set aside to dry.
Use a melon baller to scoop medium-size spheres from a hunk of Styrofoam. Toss them into another plastic bag containing a couple of tablespoons of brown acrylic paint and shake. Poke toothpicks into the painted “meatballs,” remove from the bag and let dry. Or, poke toothpicks into the Styrofoam balls and paint with a paintbrush.
Remove toothpicks, then glue meatballs on “spaghetti” and drizzle a sauce of 50-50 mixture of glue and red paint on top. Let dry.
The spaghetti and meatballs should now be permanently glued to the plate for pretend play.
Cut green construction paper or foam sheets into leaf shapes. Toss “lettuce” in a plastic bowl with green pompoms for cucumber chunks, an elastic ponytail holder for an onion and a tan sponge cut into squares for croutons, and top with a small red rubber ball “cherry tomato.”
Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop soft play clay from its container for a bowl of “spumoni.”
Tip: It’s fun to make up menus with prices for children learning how to read, count money and make change.
NOTE: Due to small parts, this activity is for children ages 4 and up.