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Imaginative Play Ice Cream Shop

Welcome to our Ice Cream Shop!!

The fun and joy of exploring the imaginary world of an ice cream shop.

Today I am sharing some ideas for setting up an imaginative play ice cream shop.  My girls had so much fun with this (and Dad) and took part in adding their own ideas of what they thought an Ice Cream Shop should have.

To find out more about why imaginative play is important for kids and how to encourage it click here: How to Encourage and Support Imaginative Play?


Kids have a great imagination and really don’t mind what props they use for their imaginative play, as they will improvise and pretend one object to be something else.  For our ice cream shop we used a book shelf (Our Play Room Ideas) covered with a sheet as the serving counter, a table in the restaurant for eating the ice cream, pretend money (Bottle Top Money), pompoms for pretend ice cream, small serving spoons, patty pans to imitate ice cream cups and a little cash register.

You can’t have an ice cream shop without an ice cream stand!  We used a small box  covered with plain paper to make the stand.  I carefully pressed 6 holes into the box with scissors, twisting to make the holes bigger.  We then neatened up the holes by folding sticky tape over the rough edges as seen in the photo.

To make the ice cream cones we folded brown paper into cone shapes and sticky taped it together.  The large pompoms are great for pretend ice cream but you can alternatively use scrunched up crepe or tissue paper.

Let’s Play 

Miss 4 and Miss 6 changed roles as the buyer and shop assistant during their play.  They just loved pretending taking on their role and using the appropriate language and actions for their character. The purchaser had a little bag with Bottle Top Money and the shop assistant wore a chef’s hat and apron.

Let’s Pretend 

Miss 4 and Miss 6 pretended that the coloured pompoms were different flavours.  Here is Miss 4 serving some strawberry ice cream in a cone.  The ice cream was also served into the patty pan cups with a small spoon just like  a real ice cream shop.

Let’s Learn 

We plan to make some homemade ice cream to extend the fun and learning, may be chocolate ice cream.

Learning benefits of imaginative play – Ice Cream Shop

  • It provides opportunities for children to identify with the adult world.  Practise and role play their understanding and interpretation.
  • Develop social skills: practising negotiation skills, turn taking and sharing. Provides opportunities for working out problems and experimenting with solutions.
  • Emotional development: Understanding and expressing their feelings through the re-enactment of certain experiences.  Taking on roles that encourage discipline and empathy.
  • Encourages imagination: Children can be anyone and do anything in the pretend world.
  • Develop language skills: practising listening, looking and talking.  Being spoken to and talking with other people, also developing an understanding of what is being communicated through body language such as smiles and nodding.
  • Introduces and familiarises kids with money, value and the concept of trading.
  • I also believe that imaginative play is a great way for children to escape, relax and unwind from their busy lives.

10 thoughts on “Imaginative Play Ice Cream Shop”

  1. Hi Janice

    I just love your website and updates on Facebook. I am a health professional and WFHM (all hours) and my kids are just getting old enough to introduce all these fun learning activities. Its great to get all these ideas so that we can have some fun structured activities for them to do during the day and especially as they aren’t getting the craft etc at daycare/preschool… the we need to foster this learning ourselves! Thanks

    1. Hi Julienne,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, it is always so nice to hear that learning4kids is a useful resource for parents. Kids are like sponges at this age and learn so much even before formal schooling. Thanks again!

  2. Wow! I want to play ice cream shop. Your set up is awesome. We tried ice cream shop recently – I made cones out of felt and used rolled up socks for ice cream. I will have to try your pom pom idea.

    How about trying candy shop next? You can check out my download to create your own candy shop or just download the free candy bucks and let your imagination go. Check it out here – http://www.growingplay.com/candy.html

  3. Janice,
    Just a courtesy note to let you know I have pinned your “Imaginative play ice cream shop” post to a pinterest board with a collection of learning resources to support learning through playing ice cream shops. You will find lesson ideas, learning activities and resources on my boards. You can view my boards at http://pinterest.com/fingerpprojects/
    Warm Regards

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Picture of Hi and welcome to Learning 4 Kids!

Hi and welcome to Learning 4 Kids!

My name is Janice and I am an Early Childhood Teacher in Australia.

I have a strong passion and love for teaching and creating meaningful learning experiences for my students. What I love most is watching children discover in those amazing light bulb moments. I hope Learning4kids brings you some useful ideas.

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