Many children’s books focus on nutritional aspects of food. We’ve got books about dancing veggies, rainbow fruit, growing sustainable gardens and so on. I’ve had a hard time finding story time resources for foods like pizza. Sure, pizza isn’t the “healthiest” food to glorify, but when we categorize foods as “good” or “bad” we create an unnecessary and harmful stigma. Like in all things, strive for balance–and story times should reflect what kids (and adults) love. Early literacy, meet pizza!
To preview the songs we sing at the intro and outro of our Storytimes, visit our “Favorite Programming Songs” post under the Children’s Services tab, or under Themes.
- What is your favorite type of pizza to eat? Cheese, pepperoni, veggie lover’s? Would you ever eat a pizza made entirely of broccoli? How about a pizza made with fish?
- Have you ever had a pizza delivered to your house?
- How many slices of pizza can you eat?
Sensory display: If you’ve got a local pizza joint that will lend you empty pizza boxes, it’s the absolute best prop to have on hand for a pizza story time. You can set them around, have the children draw pizza inside them, put plastic or felt pizza slices inside, or simply have children use their imagination and pretend to deliver pizzas.
Read: Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin
Motion Rhyme: It’s Pizza Time
It’s pizza time, it’s pizza time,
sell a slice and earn a dime, (pretend to hand out slices)
mix the dough, roll the dough, toss the dough HOORAY! (model stirring, rolling, and tossing)
it’s pizza time, it’s pizza time,
sell a slice and earn a dime,
add the sauce, extra cheese please, bake until it’s done—
slice the pizza, now it’s time for pizza party fun! (slice the pizza over your palm)
(Pantomime eating your pizza, making loud “yums!”)
Read: Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington
Read: The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza by Philemon Sturges
I created a felt pizza with five slices for these next few songs. For P*I*Z*Z*A, flip a slice of pizza over to hide the letter ‘P’ and instruct children to clap on the slices. Do this until the whole word is turned, and all you’re left with is claps! This is a great early literacy technique for helping children with memory and cadence.
Felt Song: P*I*Z*Z*A (to the tune of BINGO)
There is a food I love to eat, and Pizza is its name-o,
P I Z Z A * P I Z Z A * P I Z Z A and pizza is its name-o.
Felt Song: (to the Oscar Meyer song)
Oh I wish I was a pepperoni pizza,
that is what I’d truly like to be.
For if I was a pepperoni pizza,
everyone would be in love with me.
(Start the song again, unveiling which flavor of pizza you’d truly like to be: veggie lovers, cheese, and weird flavors like blueberry and cotton candy. Have the children try to guess the flavors as you go, they’ll get such a kick out of it. In an updated version, I even made a “cobweb” pizza and the kids rioted.)
Imagination Play Prompts/Simple Fractions: Ask the children how many pieces are in the felt pizza. Pretend to eat a slice and throw it over your shoulder. Ask how many pieces remain, and count all together. With a dry erase board, indicate they have 4 out of 5 pieces of pizza left (4/5). Carry on until you have zero!
- Use the pizza boxes to pretend you’re running your very own Pizza Parlor.
- Make pretend pizza from start to finish. Try to remember how Sally made a pizza from Pizza at Sally’s, or Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.
- Invite more simple math into the story time by providing fake money and asking the children to buy slices form the Pizza Parlor.
Craft: Paper plate pizza. Cut up different shapes and colors for children to color and glue onto a paper plate, making their own pizza prop for imaginative play.
- Children will practice shape recognition, gluing, coloring, and writing.
- Children will use chants and cadences to improve phonological awareness.
- Children will conduct investigative play inspired by their favorite foods, while practicing story recall and and print awareness.
- Children may utilize simple math skills appropriate for Kindergarten readiness.
And that’s the End: This story time theme rocks every time I use it. Not only do kids undeniably love pizza across the board, but parents and caregivers are always excited by the simplicity of pizza. No complexity, just pepperoni. There’s also something about pizza that provides a sense of togetherness, whether you’re making it as a family or ordering in. Food can be an important avenue towards early literacy development, which ends my formal rant about pizza. As if I have to convince anyone that it’s good. This isn’t a hot take.