One of our all time favorite dramatic play themes is Ice Cream Shop! It’s a fun theme to do in the summer when it’s hot, and it’s also fun to do in the winter when it’s icy outside. Whenever you decide to do it with your little learners, it will be just amazing!
I’m spilling all my secrets to creating a dreamy Ice Cream Shop where students learn through play, and it won’t break your bank. My biggest secret: the ice cream is made out of tissue paper!
Welcome to the Ice Cream Shop! It doesn’t take much furniture to set up. I use a table, stand, sink and shelf for the ice cream supplies.
I often get questions about the ice cream stand. It is a wood puppet stand with the curtains removed. Melissa and Doug makes a stand you could use as well. I just purchased it for my new classroom! See it HERE.
My pre-k friends write the words for all the signs in our Ice Cream Shop. It gives students an authentic reason to write and gives them ownership.
At the order window, I have set up a cash register, signs, ice cream topping menu, ice cream flavor menu, order forms and a paper roll for students to write receipts with. All the printable signs, menus, and order forms are in my Ice Cream Shop pack.
How inviting does the ice cream maker shelf look? When space is inviting, your students will want (and beg) to go play there (even the boys).
The labels make clean up a breeze. Students just match the item to picture.
The silver board is an oil drip pan from Walmart. It’s magnetic so we post all the ice cream orders on it to show students their work is meaningful and important!
Are you ready for this? We made the ice cream out of tissue paper from the dollar store! Yep, just ball up some tissue paper and tape around it! It is super easy, and the students LOVED making it. Plus, it was a fabulous exercise for their little hand muscles. We painted “chips” to make chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip.
The ice cream cartons are large yogurt containers we saved from snack with construction paper wrapped around it. It’s just that simple.
You can buy pretend ice cream if you don’t want to make it.My favorite part: the toppings! This is a great place to get creative! The cherries are red pom poms. The chocolate sauce is brown string and the strawberry sauce is pink string. Students cut the string one morning as an arrival activity to practice cutting.
The bananas are yellow foam board cut into the shape of a banana.
Math is everywhere at the Ice Cream Shop during play if you plan for it! Be intentional with the props you put out! Put out different size drinking cups and ice cream cups. Students can sort by size, use comparative words (small, medium, large) and compare sizes.
Students are also sorting the ice cream flavors by color and counting the number of scoops when they serve ice cream. They also read numbers on order forms.
I wish you could see how serious his face is in this picture! Play is serious work for your little learners. This little guy and his friend ordering had an amazing conversation filled with math vocabulary and themed vocabulary. The ice cream maker was asking the customer questions too! Lots of language building happens during play!
I just had to show you a few photos of the students making ice cream. The whipped cream can is a real can of whip cream (emptied out and cleaned).
The sprinkles prop is a real sprinkles jar with real sprinkles in it! I hot glued the holes closed so the sprinkles don’t come out. Using real containers adds tons of environmental print to the center.
The customers sit down at the table to eat their ice cream. Yummy! Just to warn you, you will crave ice cream during this theme!
An ice cream truck is a M-U-S-T for any Ice Cream Shop! The ice cream truck is made out of a shopping cart. I taped a sign to the side of it and put ice cream supplies inside. The ice cream truck would drive around to other centers selling ice cream. Students were building tons of oral language skills and using ice cream themed vocabulary!
Students are LEARNING as they play in the Ice Cream Shop!
LITERACY: Literacy is embedded throughout their play at the Ice Cream Shop! Students will read the picture labels on the shelves, various props, signs, order forms, and menus. They will write orders, recipes, and receipts all during play. Students will develop their oral language skills when they communicate their thoughts and ideas with their peers. Students will build an amazing amount of theme related vocabulary too!
MATH: Students will be counting the number of scoops as they are making the ice cream, reading numbers on order forms, sorting ice cream scoops by color, counting money and writing numbers on receipts.
SOCIAL SKILLS: Students will be developing social skills during pretend play. For example, students are learning about self regulation, turn taking, sharing, waiting, impulse control and expressing their feelings through appropriate gestures, actions, and words. Students also can pretend play with problem solving.
If you want all the Ice Cream Shop printables, a parent letter, labels, signs, more classroom photographs, prop patterns, ice cream theme month planning web and even more secrets to making a dreamy Ice Cream Shop, grab Ice Cream Shop Dramatic Play HERE.
Need Ice Cream themed math and literacy centers to take the theme all over the room? I’ve got you covered. Grab my Ice Cream Math and Literacy Centers pack. It’s over 100 pages of engaging centers your students will L-O-V-E!
Pin this image so you have it as a reference later!
Need more ice cream inspiration? Follow my Ice Cream Theme Pinterest Board!