This afternoon I sat with a group of six sprouts at the kitchen center and pretended to be their ‘customer’ as they waited on me. Two children rushed over with pads and pencils to write down my order.

“I’ll have spaghetti, some vegetables, and a glass of water,” I ordered.

I sat for a few minutes as the boys stretched the words out the best they could and jotted my order down for the kitchen.

A few moments later, Penny arrived with the start of my order.

“Here ya go! Spaghetti and some baby powder!” She exclaimed.

Sure enough, she handed over a bowl of fake pasta and a little plastic bottle of baby powder. Hmmm, interesting.

“Baby powder, I didn’t order this… why would I want this with my pasta?” I quipped. I was trying to add a little realism to their restaurant.

“I dunno,” she replied and was off back to the kitchen, leaving me to ponder who would use baby powder for a condiment.

Jason came with a piece of purple plastic cake. I’m not sure why anyone would make a purple plastic cake, but here was my dessert.

“Thank you Jason, I love cake!” I informed him.

Jason, always quiet and shy, smiled.

“Why don’t you sit down and share it with me?” I asked.

Without a word he did. We had a calm conversation about his day, his family, and his weekend plans. It was a fantastic way to end my fake meal.

Who says play isn’t critical to a child’s development? My observations and interactions deepened my understanding of my sprouts as learners. As an educator, that’s priceless… and also a lot of fun.