Tag Archives: pretend play

A {Pretend Play} Popcorn Shop

Pretend Play Popcorn Shop | Mama Papa BubbaOur makeshift puppet theatre got LOTs of play and it was {well past} time to switch things up in our little Ikea SKYLTA Market Stand.  Because we’re amidst our 5 days dedicated to packing our entire house, it had to be something super quick and easy to set-up, but highly engaging in order to keep Miss G happily {and independently} playing for as long as possible.

IMG 0406To get things started, I made a little ‘Popcorn Shop’ sign that took less than a minute to make, and popped it into the structure’s sign slot.

IMG 0407Then Grae and I made a big bowl of plain stove-top popcorn (in coconut oil of course) and she grabbed a measuring cup to act as her scoop while I grabbed an old salt shaker that works terribly (it barely lets anything out, and in this case that’s perfect) and put a little sea salt inside.

IMG 0409While I’ve seen really cute old-fashioned popcorn bags at our local dollar store, I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand if you can, so I grabbed some paper bags I’d used at a recent craft market and quickly wrote ‘POPCORN’ across the front of each one.  Together we decided that the small white ones would be the shop’s personal size and the bigger brown ones would be family-sized.  

IMG 0412After retrieving an apron, Miss G opened her popcorn shop for business.

IMG 0405She took orders, asking us about our size and salt preferences, and carefully scooped popcorn into bags.  When an order was ready, she’d deliver it to us wherever we were working in the house, then check back in a few minutes later to see if we needed a free refill… Now that’s what I call service!

IMG 0404Our popcorn shop was a total hit with Grae and my guess is that she’d continue dishing out bags of popcorn as long as I’d continue filling the bowl.  

This inexpensive cardboard contraption has brought us a ton of fun already and I fully plan to take advantage of it for the last few weeks before we move.  ☺

To see the other ways we’ve used our cardboard market stand, click here.

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{Pretend Play} Fruit and Veggie Market

Pretend Play Fruit  Veggie Market with Ikea s SKYLTA Children s Market Stand | Mama Papa BubbaSeveral weeks ago, while slowly making our way through the children’s section of Ikea, I spotted this cardboard play market.  Now it’s not like me to purchase play things on a whim (we sort of operate on a minimal toys basis in our house), but with all of the all of the possibilities and a $12.99 price tag ($14.99 in the US), I couldn’t pass it up.  

IMG 8640For the last little while, it’s been Grae’s Fruit & Veggie Market, where she sells all sort of {felt} fruits and vegetables for ridiculously low prices (and she even throws in a free reusable bag with your purchase!)

IMG 8663One of Gracen’s very favourite pretend play games is ‘store’, so it goes without saying that this has been a total hit, plus I love the fact that it encourages all kinds of communication, manners, and role play.

Next up, our cardboard market is being put to use as a puppet theatre! 

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{Pretend Play} Bubble Tea Shop

Pretend Play Bubble Tea Shop | Mama Papa BubbaEver since the very first time we played with water beads, I’ve had a pretend play bubble tea station on my mind.  I just can’t help it…  It may be that we live in a city that has a bubble tea shop every couple of blocks, but the squishy, shiny beads make me think of tapioca pearls every time I see them.  

Finally, almost a year after dreaming up the idea, my wee one and I put together our first pretend bubble tea shop. And it couldn’t have been better timing as Miss G is really into pretend play (in particular, store games where an exchange of some sort takes place) right now. 

Bubble Tea Station Set up | Mama Papa BubbaWhile I often set up invitations to play or create while she’s sleeping, this time around Gracen helped me.  Together, we gathered up a few things we had around the house and a couple of inexpensive things we purchased especially for this activity.  Included in the set-up were some tall plastic cups, a few containers of water beads with small scoops (our tapioca pearls), a couple of small pitchers of coloured water (our tea / fruit juice), a small spouted container of water coloured white with cornstarch (our condensed milk), and a jar full of colourful bubble tea straws (purchased at our local Japanese dollar store).  Though I really don’t mind a mess in the name of great play, I also included tray on the pouring area of the table to catch little spills and prevent a slippery wooden floor.  

Bubble Tea Sign | Mama Papa BubbaTo complete the set-up, we popped over to the computer to create a quick shop sign.  I told her how to spell ‘bubble tea’ and Miss G carefully located and pressed each key, which was a fun activity in itself.  Afterwards, I selected a good, bold outline font and she chose the image and the drink price.  We printed it off, coloured it together, and used some washi tape to hang it on the wall.  

Bubble Tea Station | Mama Papa BubbaWith our shop complete, it was time to get down to business and Gracen couldn’t have been more excited.  While she’s never tried bubble tea herself, she’s seen people walking down the street with it plenty, so she had a very good idea of what she wanted to do.

At this point I should say that Miss G is well out of the putting things in her mouth stage and because she is such a rule follower, I was not worried in the least that she would attempt to drink her creations (she wouldn’t even consider it).  Of course, if you suspect that your little one would be tempted to drink the pretend bubble tea or if you’re unable to supervise the play the entire time, this activity is not for you as water beads are {obviously} not edible.

Making Bubble Tea | Mama Papa BubbaI invited her to get started without giving her any instructions (as I usually do), and this is how she put together her creation… Pearls first, then juice, then a straw and some milk – a pretty solid method I’d say!

Making Pretend Bubble Tea | Mama Papa BubbaShe made drink after drink, each time talking about the person she was making for.  This particular one was for Grandma Sue because Grandma Sue loves pink and therefore she’d pick pink pearls and pink juice.  The process went on and on until she could no longer think of another person she knew.  Then it was on to making them for people’s pets!

IMG 8774Here are a few of her bubble tea creations.  Pretty, aren’t they?

IMG 8744Because the station was such a hit, I set up a bowl with a strainer in it so she could pour out her drinks and refill her containers when she’d run out of supplies (well, she was in charge of refilling her water bead containers and I poured the water from the bowl back into the pitchers).  This allowed the fun to continue on and on without having to waste water or make trips back and forth to the kitchen.

Bubble Tea Pretend Play | Mama Papa BubbaGracen enjoyed this activity so much that it stayed out for nearly a week, getting lots of action each day.  We’ll definitely be doing it again in the near future, and while it was great inside, I can’t wait to set it up outside in the backyard on a warm day too!

Again, water beads are not edible and should never be consumed.  This activity should always be supervised and is not intended for munchkins prone to tasting play materials or putting things in their mouths.


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Pretend Popsicle Play

Pretend Popsicle Play With Gelatine Pops | Mama Papa BubbaKnowing Grae’s love of popsicles, my mom sent her home from the Okanagan with a couple of new popsicle mould sets the other day.  While I knew she’d be excited, what I wasn’t expecting was for two new popsicle moulds to keep her happily playing in her rear-facing car seat for at least 1/2 of our 7 hour drive home.  She was so engaged with them that Brad actually said, “Well I know what we need to bring on the plane to Kuwait.” (If you’re travelling through Germany in August and see a woman with popsicle mould parts clumsily falling out of her purse, that’ll be me.)

IMG 8103When we got home and I started thinking about fun play opportunities for the week, I thought it would be fun to try to set up a popsicle-themed pretend play station.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was making the pretend pops out of ice, but I wanted something a little different.  Enter gelatine. With a fun texture that can be jiggled, squished, and crumbled, I knew it would be a hit.  

To make the pops quite sturdy, I mixed up 3 packets of Knox unflavoured gelatine with 3/4 of a cup of boiling water, then added 3/4 of a cup of cool water once the gelatine had been dissolved.  I popped a few drops of liquid food colouring into each of my popsicle cups, poured the gelatine mixture in, mixed it up, and put the faux popsicles in the refrigerator over night. 

IMG 8105This morning while we were preparing breakfast together, Miss G immediately noticed the rainbow coloured popsicles in the fridge and asked if they were for playing with.  Let me tell you, this girl doesn’t miss a thing.  She patiently waited until after our morning outing, lunchtime, and her nap, and I had this little set up ready ready for her when she woke up.

IMG 8112She was delighted to see it and immediately asked, “Are these just for playing, Mama? Or are they for eating?”  With the fact that they were for playing with cleared up, she began naming the flavours – my favourite of which was tomato soup (the red one).  Then she began doling out the treats in bowls with spoons, as she often likes her popsicles.

IMG 8113Next up, all of the popsicles went back into their moulds and got put into her pretend freezer.  Then she took them out, one by one (with the help of a spoon and some serious shaking) as though she were filling customer orders.

IMG 8116For the customers who preferred to eat their frozen treats from a bowl rather than a stick, she happily crumbled the popsicles up.  As you do.

IMG 8119There was lots of play with the popsicles in their smushed up state…

IMG 8123Then she moved onto making rainbow pops.  Because I mean, who wants only one flavour when you can have several, right?

IMG 8127And then there was soup. Oh, was there ever.  Soup stirred so enthusiastically that bits flew out of the bowl and landed in various spots around our living room. 

IMG 8132I’d say pretend popsicles were a hit, wouldn’t you?  A colourful, messy, joyful hit.


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Dirt, Sticks, & Water

IMG 6428IMG 6424IMG 6417IMG 6427We woke up to an absolutely gorgeous sunny day today and immediately packed up a lunch and headed down to our favourite beach-front playground.  As always, Grae spent tons of time climbing ladders, sliding through tunnels, riding the swings, and spinning on the merry-go-round, but during this visit, she spent just as much time climbing on and off this log, adding bits and pieces, and tending to her delicious-looking mud soup.

It makes my heart happy that dirt, sticks, and water can still inspire just as much play as it did when I was little.

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Dress-Up Centre

Dress Up CentreA long while ago, while we were home in the Okanagan for Thanksgiving, I mentioned a wooden dress-up station I’d seen on Pinterest.  Grandma Charlotte asked for me to send her the link, and before we knew it, a surprise wooden dress-up station was brought down to the coast for Grae (spoiled little lady!)

IMG 5791Gracen’s Poppop built it for her (adding a very useful top shelf), and though it still needs a little sanding and a few coats of paint, we put it to use as soon as it arrived and it’s been in Gracen’s room ever since (we’ll get to the painting…eventually…)  

IMG 5792To add to the few Halloween things we had and the hats we’d bought from IKEA, Grandma Charlotte collected all kinds of dress up goodies and put them together in a huge costume collection as one of Grae’s Christmas presents. 

IMG 5794She now has everything from one piece numbers, to tutus, boas, wings, hats, glasses, bandanas, and crowns.

IMG 5781Needless to say, dressing up has been a popular activity in our house for a long while now…  Not to mention that I love all of the pretend play and role play it encourages.  

IMG 5802Although it’s not currently the right time of year, if you’re planning on starting a tickle trunk for your little one, I’d highly recommend shopping in the few days just after Halloween.  I got this cute little fleece robot costume at the beginning of Novemeber for $1.82 when costumes were 90% off (seriously, in the words of Brad, it was costing me more NOT to buy it ☺).

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Mini Restaurateur

IMG 5371It’s no secret that Gracen loves to help in the kitchen.  So for a long time, we’d intended to buy her a play kitchen for Christmas.  But when going back to Kuwait became a serious consideration, we decided to put the kitchen plans on hold, buy one after the move, and opt for handmade felt food instead as it can easily be packed overseas.  

IMG 5367IMG 5377IMG 5372IMG 5366Unfortunately, we had a few snafus with our order and it only arrived a couple of weeks ago… Of course, for Miss G, who was spoiled at Christmas nonetheless and had no idea it was coming, opening the parcel today was the best surprise ever.

IMG 5370IMG 5384IMG 5376IMG 5382We laid out a blanket in the living room, grabbed a couple of stacks of plates, and she’s been whipping up meals ever since.

IMG 5373IMG 5383IMG 5374IMG 5379The funniest part is that every time we’re out and about and she spots a restaurant, she points to it and shouts, “Mama, a resdaraunt!  Grae Grae has one of dose at home in da living room.  Grae Grae has a resdaraunt station!!!”

IMG 5375IMG 5386IMG 5368It’s certainly no play kitchen, but our little sous chef doesn’t mind one bit.


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Ice Cream Shop {Using Ice Cream Dough}

Ice Cream Shop with Ice Cream DoughAfter making a few batches of ice cream dough this afternoon, Gracen and I set up a simple little ice cream shop in the living room.  We used an old wooden apple crate for her table top and made sure the floor was protected with a large bath towel.

IMG 5074Then we went around the house to collect a few other items.  First up – ice cream cones.  Yes, the real ones…  We had them on hand from her 2nd birthday party and they’d never be used otherwise, so may as well use them for some fun pretend play, right?

IMG 5075Of course, for customers not partial to cones, you need to have a bowl option.  These silicon baking cups did the job perfectly.

IMG 5076Next, we gathered up some spoons and an ice cream scoop…

IMG 5073As well as some buttons, beads, and straw pieces for candies and candy sprinkles. 

IMG 5082And with that, our little ice cream shop owner got to work.

IMG 5093IMG 5091There was plenty of scooping, touching, smelling, and exploring to be done.

IMG 5084Of course the ice cream treats rolled out of the shop one after another too.  A hazelnut ice cream cone for Papa…

IMG 5099And a strawberry ice cream cup {with extra candy sprinkles!} for Mama.

IMG 5088This was such a simple set-up, but I can already tell that she’s going to get hours of fun out of it.  Of course, it’s more than just fun…  This little ice cream shop incorporates pretend play, a sensory experience, and creativity too.

IMG 5090


To see our other ice cream shop using play dough, click here.

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{AMAZING} Ice Cream Dough

Ice Cream DoughThis afternoon Gracen and I tried out a new sensory material originally created by Jessie of Play Create Explore (if you’re a parent and haven’t checked out her blog before, you definitely should – she’s got hundreds of sensory play ideas, fun bath ideas, and tons more) and it was AWESOME.

IMG 5062The ingredients seem a little strange, but they work perfectly together to create a hard ice cream-looking texture.  The main two ingredients are cornstarch and conditioner – yes, hair conditioner – the cheapest variety you can find.   The other stuff is just food colouring and cheap imitation extracts to make it look and smell more like real ice cream.

IMG 5063We decided on making 3 ‘flavours’ (coconut, strawberry, and hazelnut), Gracen started us off by putting an equal amount of conditioner in 3 bowls.

IMG 5065Then she added our food colouring – none for coconut, red for strawberry, and a combination of red, green, and yellow for the hazelnut.

IMG 5067Then she added a generous pour of extract into each of the bowls…

IMG 5068And mixed them up.

IMG 5069One thing I will say is that we should have spend a little more time looking for an unscented {or at least a very lightly scented} conditioner.  At $1.28, the price was certainly right, but the strong ‘fresh’ scent gave our imitation extracts a serious run for their money.  Even something food scented would have been better…  Next time we’ll look for something of the strawberry / coconut / mango variety.

IMG 5070Next up was the messy part…  Mixing the cornstarch into the conditioner mixture.

IMG 5078After gently folding and blending the cornstarch and conditioner together, this was the end result.

IMG 5080Isn’t it crazy how much it looks like REAL hard ice cream?!

IMG 5081Here’s a close up view.

IMG 5098And as long as it’s handled like hard ice cream usually is (not rolled or smoothed over too much – thanks for the tip, Jessie!), it scoops perfectly – just as ice cream does. ☺


We followed Play Create Explore‘s ratios exactly, so please visit the original post here.  The amounts we used for these batches, along with details on the colouring and extracts are as follows:

Coconut Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of imitation coconut extract


Strawberry Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

6 drops of red food colouring

1 tablespoon of imitation strawberry extract


Hazelnut Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

4 drops of red food colouring

4 drops of green food colouring

12 drops of yellow food colouring

1 tablespoon of imitation hazelnut extract




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{Pretend Play} Cooking Station

Pretend Play Cooking StationFirst off, I have to say that I just love setting up fun play invites for Gracen to discover.  The way her little face lights up when she finds something new just melts me.  And she dives in so enthusiastically that I seriously could just stand back and watch her play forever. 

I set up this little cooking station on our butcher block tonight while Miss G was having an early bath.  I knew I’d be making dinner once she was out and that Brad would probably want to get some dishes done, so having a fun activity right in the kitchen where we’d be would allow for some family time while all working on our own projects.  

IMG 4900Gracen got all kinds of really cool cooking and baking supplies for Christmas this year, so I made sure to include them, but you could easily just use regular-sized bowls, pans, and utensils.

IMG 4899For the ‘food’, I filled up some small jars and bowls with dried goods from our pantry and added in a couple of spice shakers, one filled with rice and the other with some of the coloured epsom salt we used as a sensory experience before Christmas.

IMG 4909Of course our observant little girl noticed the cooking station within 10 seconds of exiting the bathroom, long before she had completely dried off or put clothes on.  After retrieving a shirt, some underwear, and a hat (weird doodle!) it was time to play.

IMG 4903Pie anyone?

IMG 4914She whipped up concoction after concoction, offering us tastes along the way. ☺

IMG 4915She had so much fun that at the end of the night I simply tidied things up a little, made them looking inviting again, and left them out for her to explore again tomorrow.  


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