Use these ideas and hacks to transform your dramatic play center into a taco restaurant or taco truck that your kids will love.
Sure, setting up a taco shop in your dramatic play center sounds like a GREAT idea….until you start thinking about getting props for that taco shop. What in the world are you going to use?
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have the money to get me all the cool toys that my classmates had. I became a pro at creating things from unexpected materials. Instead of a Barbie Townhouse, I created a mansion for my Barbies from blocks, boxes, and fabric scraps.
Fast forward a bunch of years….
Now I enjoy finding unexpected materials to use in learning activities. I had a blast finding materials to use as props for a taco shop. I’m excited to share my ideas so that you can create a taco restaurant or taco truck dramatic play area for your kids.
As you begin gathering materials for your taco shop, start by looking through your own craft supplies. You might find that you already have materials that you can use to create food and a restaurant atmosphere. Use materials that fit your budget and your schedule. Your kids might enjoy helping you create some of the props for their dramatic play center restaurant.
The most important rule about dramatic play is to HAVE FUN and do what works for you.
You can’t have a taco without tortillas, right? I found felt sheets in two different weights at my craft store. The thicker felt seemed perfect for a soft shell tortilla. I made flour tortillas with off-white felt and corn tortillas with beige felt.
You can also purchase fleece at your fabric store and use that instead of felt. I found a perfectly-sized round plastic container and traced it onto the felt. Then, I cut out the circle with my sharp sewing scissors.
Do you want to have crispy tacos in your taco shop? You can make crispy taco shells with craft foam or stiff felt. Trace and cut a circle and fold the shell in half.
How to Make DIY Taco Meat
I was walking through the yarn aisle of my craft store and found some great materials to use as taco meat.
Take a look at this pom-pom yarn. Have you seen anything like it?
The skein that I bought had a variety of pom-poms in brown, beige, and coral. They work perfectly to make pretend chicken tacos, beef tacos, and my favorite….shrimp tacos. I found some thick chenille yarn that would work well for meat as well.
If you are interested in the yarn, I included some affiliate links at the bottom of this post. When you purchase something from link, there will be no additional cost to you, but a small portion of your purchase will be used towards the cost of maintaining this website.
Don’t have chenille yarn…no problem! You can also use felt, fleece, crumbled construction paper, or rolled up pipe cleaners to serve as pretend meat.
How to Make other Ingredients
Cut red craft foam or felt to make tomatoes. You can cut it into circles, wedges, or squares. You can even re-use them as pepperoni for a pizza shop dramatic play set up.
How’s that for being resourceful?
Foam or strips of yarn can be used for cheese. You can also make lettuce with felt, foam, or by tearing green paper.
My favorite topping creation is jalapeno peppers. You can make them by cutting a rough circle out of green foam and adding three holes in the center with a hole punch.
Aren’t they cute?
Let your kids help make them. They love using a hole punch….plus, it’s a great fine motor activity.
Additional Ideas for Food & Drink
Save empty water bottles or beverage containers and use them to create drinks for your restaurant. Here is a great tip….My husband takes bottles of ice tea to work. The plastic tea bottles are much sturdier and hold up much better than those crinkly water bottles.
Tearing paper is a great activity for building hand strength. Put your kids to work tearing brightly colored paper and adding it to the plastic bottles. Place them together in a cooler, plastic container, or play refrigerator.
You can create hot sauce in the same way with condiment bottles. I found these clear condiment bottles at Wal-Mart for $1 each.
In addition to food, here are some additional ideas for props that you can add to your dramatic play area to create a taco restaurant:
- telephones for phone orders
- play cleaning supplies (clothes, sponges, cleaners, mop, broom, etc)
- clip boards
- skillets, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, cups
- kitchen utensils (mixing spoons, spatulas, tongs)
- play cash register and money
- non-working laptop or tablet
- plastic trays or cookie sheets
- fiesta party decor
The printables that you see in the pictures above are available in the Taco Shop Dramatic Play Set in my store. Here are some additional printables that are available in that set.
Logos – If you want to get really fancy, you can create uniforms for the employees at your taco shop. Taco Cafe logos can be added to inexpensive aprons, hats, or shirts. I used duct tape to stick them on. You can also use hot glue or hook and loop tape. I just had to roll the logo a little bit so that it fit better onto the rounded cap.
Role Name Tags – You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, right? Role name tags can help divide the roles among your kids. They can also help kids understand which role each child is playing.
Menus, Signs, Banner – I created some easy to read menus for young kids. Because I live in Texas, where breakfast tacos are a way of life, I created both a breakfast and a lunch menu. You will also find open/closed, order here, pick up here, and hours of operation signs.
No restaurant is complete without a sign. I added printable letters in both full color and black and white. Use them to create a banner or bunting for your taco restaurant.
More Printables – Lots of Early Literacy Opportunities
Order Forms – Both lunch and breakfast order forms can be used to record a customer’s taco order. Like the menus, they are easy to read and full of pictures and simple words in easy-to-read print. Kids can easily take a customer’s order and the cook can read the order form as he or she prepares the food.
Blank Menus – To give kids additional opportunities to get creative, I included two sizes of printable black and white blank menus. You can add these, along with the word cards, to your writing center.
Schedules, Recipe Pages, Surveys – Kids can create a schedule for the workday. Does everyone want to work at the taco shop today? Use this printable employee schedule as a waiting list.
There is a customer survey in the set of printables too. Kids can rate how well they like the food and service using checkmarks. Then, they can tell you their favorite thing about the taco shop by drawing a picture.
You can help kids write their favorite recipe on a taco recipe page, or kids can draw a picture of their favorite taco. I even included a cover page so that you can compile all the pages into a class cookbook.
Purchase the Printables
I had so much fun finding ideas and creating resources for this taco shop dramatic play center set-up. If I could travel back in time, I would totally make a taco shop down the street from my Barbie mansion. I hope that you have fun using these taco shop dramatic play ideas. If you want to get the taco shop dramatic printables you can get them at my store.
Below are some items from Amazon that can be used for the activities mentioned in this article. The links below are affiliate links. If you happen to purchase something from link, there will be no additional cost to you, but a small portion of your purchase will be used towards the cost of maintaining this website