One of my favorite memories from my boys' kindergarten years in Japan was an event held every year. The oldest children in the school would work for weeks preparing all sorts of items for a huge play store. They'd make toys, fruit and vegetables, sushi, sweets and ice cream, jewelry and bags, all from recyclables. Some of the materials they used included newspaper, milk cartons, water bottles, straws, shopping bags, gift wrap, plastic wrap, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, etc. Meanwhile, the younger children in the school would make their own little shopping bags, wallets, and money, and then the store would open, the young ones would troop in, and the older ones would proudly "sell" their gorgeous little creations. This always led to weeks of exciting follow-up play in our own home.
Making handmade items for house play or store play seems to be really popular here. Adult make things like felt sweets. Children make their own versions from paper and recyclables. The sushi shown here is quite easy for children to do.
First of all you will need a few of these or some other similar styrofoam packing. Here, this is used to wrap fruit in in the grocery store. To be honest, I'm not sure if they even use this back home – if not, you can easily substitute with styrofoam peanuts, shredded paper, or even small amounts of wadded up paper towels or tissue.
Make a small cylinder using the stuffing of your choice, then wrap it with black construction paper and tape. Cut to the length you want your sushi to be. That's all there is to it! Add on bits of red maguro (tuna), green cucumber, or yellow pickles with glue and then line them up in a little container (such as take-out sushi containers). You can cut the green "grass" that comes inside take-out sushi, and then use a wadded up small piece of green construction paper as wasabi and pink paper as pickled ginger.
Children get a real kick out of play food, especially if they make it themselves. I'll be posting more tutorials for other play store items in the next few weeks.