After reading Tamson Weston’s book, Hey, Pancakes” and Maria Fleming’s P Is for Pancake, one of the kindergarten reading groups became fascinated with the vast number of foods that start with the letter P. Soon, they were using writing and drawing skills to create menus featuring – you guessed – foods that started with P. And if you have a menu, you might as well have a restaurant. It wasn’t long before the group was preparing for the opening of Norwood’s first and only restaurant, the Pancake Palace.
The project blossomed from the children’s sense of ownership, creativity, and real-world experience. They sent invitations, promising the most unique dining experiences of your life, to a handful of faculty and staff members, made signage, arranged furniture, spread tablecloths, set up the cash register, and took in the various roles needed to run a restaurant: hosts, servers, kitchen staff, and cashiers. From the moment they opened doors to the Pancake Palace, the young restaurateurs were hard at work greeting customers, taking orders, serving food, adding checks, making change, and cleaning up.
Customers ordered from a menu featuring an eclectic array of dishes: pancakes, pears, peppermints, Pringles, pepperoni, pretzels, pickles, popcorn, pumpernickel, and pineapple. Popcorn was a clear favorite and ran out soon after the Palace opened. Overall, the dining experience was perfectly pleasing, pleasant, and positive. In fact, every customer gave the Pancake Palace two thumbs up and five stars for food, ambiance, and service.
Project-based learning in kindergarten not only helps build academic skills and knowledge, it also increases self-confidence and communication, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills as children learn to take risks in a fun, safe environment. Additionally, a multi-sensory teaching approach enhances the classroom experience for different learning styles and strengths, thereby increasing the likelihood of success for each child.
When asked if they want to run their own restaurant when they grow up, the exhausted Pancake Palace employees thought long and hard. There were a few maybes, but most agreed that it was too much work.