dramatic play · play ideas

“Ice Cream Summer” by Peter Sis

Summer is not just about fun in the sun or playing on the beach. What would a Summer be without some of our favourite cool treats, like ice cream! “Ice Cream Summer” by Peter Sis is a story that is very cleverly told from the perspective of a letter written from a grandson to his grandfather. He is telling his grandfather all about his Summer activities, which include keeping up with his math skills, learning world history, reading, and going to camp with his friends. The illustrations, however, tell the same story but each page is filled up with colourful ice cream imagery and symbolism because clearly, ice cream is on his mind this Summer!

Published by Scholastic Press.

Inspired Activity: Ice Cream Shop Dramatic Play

This weekend would have been one of my family’s favourite annual events – the Ice Cream Festival at Westfield Heritage Village. We have been going for the last 3 years and it has become a family tradition of ours. Sadly, due to covid-19 closures all of their annual events have understandably been put on hold. So, as a treat for the girls, I decided to set up a dramatic play ice cream parlor for them instead.

Dramatic or pretend play has so many important benefits for children. By performing different roles and responding to other roles during play, it provides a valuable opportunity for children to practice important cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Pretend play actively contributes to the mental development of children, providing an emotional outlet, teaching conflict resolution, aiding in literacy development, and it creates opportunities for supportive parenting by encouraging ideas and offering suggestions.

For this setup I included:

  • Crates from Michael’s stores to create the shop stand
  • 6 ice cream flavours made out of balled up tissue paper
  • 6 flavour signs, labels, and shop sign, all of which I made up myself using Photoshop; the ice cream flavour signs were lamenated
  • Toppings: sprinkles (mini pom poms), cherries & fruit (large pom poms), and chocolate syrup (brown yarn)
  • Ice cream cones are made from recycled cereal boxes
  • Bowls, spoons, and an ice cream scoop
  • Homemade yarn pom poms to decorate the crates

Once the set up was complete, I left the girls to play freely with the shop. My oldest (4.5 years old) had a better handle on the processes of scooping the ice cream into cones or bowls, adding sprinkles, and then handing the treats to us to pretend eat them. By doing this several times my youngest eventually got the hang of it too, observing and learning from her big sister.

The girls had such a blast playing with this shop. If they weren’t making ice cream cones, they were playing with the pom poms and the stringy “syrup,” and they both loved the ice cream scoop. In fact, they fought over it several times! Note to self – next time get two scoops. At least it kept them busy for most of the day. It was a perfect rainy-day activity.

They made me my favourite ice cream combination – chocolate and chocolate mint with sprinkles!

In a public library setting

The public library is a perfect space for a dramatic play set up. It allows all children equal opportunity to play and explore either on their own or with each other. It is a great venue to provide a diverse group of children a chance to participate in dramatic play together.

The setup can be simple or elaborate depending on budget. However, in my experience it does not take much to make even a simple pretend play setup very effective. An ice cream shop setup would a great Summer play option in the library.


Brooks, A. (2015). 5 Reasons Dramatic Play Matters for Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/why-dramatic-play-matters/

Griffing, P. (1983). Encouraging Dramatic Play in Early Childhood. Young Children, 38(2), 13-22.

Robertson, N., Yim, B., & Paatsch, L. (2018). Connections between children’s involvement in dramatic play and the quality of early childhood environments. Early Child Development and Care190(3), 376–389.

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