During the Waffle Inn, Grade 1 students transform the Imagination Station into a restaurant with the house specialty being – you guessed it – waffles!
Prior to the restaurant opening, each student must fill out an application explaining what job s/he would like and why they think they’d be good at it. The “applicant” is also required to attend an interview with the restaurant managers (a.k.a. the teachers) during which they must answer challenging questions about how they would handle certain situations. The students also create menus, advertisements, and invitations, and solicit parent volunteers to bring in the necessary supplies.
The students draw on their own knowledge of restaurants, discussing how they work, what they need to run and the responsibilities of each role: chef, server, and host.
On the day of the big event, hosts greet each class as students enter the restaurant. Servers take orders and help to clean and reset the tables. Parent volunteers are always present to help make the waffles while the student chefs add the desired toppings. Cashiers collect Waffle Inn money and distribute a souvenir to each customer. Grade 1 enjoys serving the other classes, but their favorite part always comes when they serve waffles to their own parents, with the works, of course!
This project is a meaningful part of the curriculum as it reinforces lessons around money, which are introduced during Grade 1. It also allows students to learn more about the jobs and businesses in the local community. Finally, the students learn the importance of working together as the restaurant cannot run smoothly without everyone doing their part.
In a tie-in with another part of the Grade 1 curriculum, students collect tips from their customers in cash. These funds are then donated to the Zoological Society of New Jersey where students visited as part of their study of endangered animals. Artwork depicting the animals the students researched and written about appear on the walls of the Waffle Inn and as papier mâché centerpieces on each of the tables.