Student Engagement: How We Transformed our Classroom into a Restaurant

This post was inspired by another blogger, Angela Watson, after reading about her pod cast on student engagement. It brought me back to an end-of-the-year project my fifth grade students created the last two weeks of the school year and reminded me why I continue to do this project year after year. I cannot begin to explain how much fun, not only students, but I have the last two weeks of school. We transform our classroom into a restaurant to serve our parents, thanking them for supporting their child’s education throughout the school year.

Problem-solving in action!
         Problem-solving in action!

There are no links to resources for this restaurant, forms, or lesson plans, because this is the STUDENTS’ creation from day one. First, the class decides if they want to take on the project. We vote on a name for our restaurant. Students are given a budget for food, and other items to buy. Class members apply for jobs after the class decides on what jobs are needed to make a restaurant successful, using an application they created. Students research the ins and outs of running a restaurant, plan and create menus, server ordering tickets, etc. Invitations are created and sent to parents. Last year, students even created a commercial, using the iMovie app, for parents to view prior to dining at our restaurant. Another student used her amazing guitar talent to play music while our guests arrived. We had so many parents RSVP we had to make reservation times to stagger the amount of customers at any given time.

The real magic came in seeing the students excitement, nervousness, and problem-solving the day of the big event. The students cooks and server staff improvised after realizing they did not have a system for knowing when an order had been filled. Together, the students created a system that was so simple and genius, it blew my mind. Talk about real-world collaboration/problems-solving! Past students continue to talk about “the restaurant” years later.

Please “steal” this idea and share with colleagues and share your own projects that engage students authentically. I would love to hear from you!

Serving the Parents


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