Pumpkin Cafe! A fun and simple dramatic play idea for Autumn

This pumpkin cafe is the perfect dramatic play idea for Autumn. It requires minimal preparation from you and your children will just love using real pumpkins in their play space.

Not only is dramatic play joyful and creative, it’s also brilliant for cognitive development too.

According to research more advanced socio-dramatic play emerges from the age of 4 and in order to play in this fashion, children need to play symbolically. However, pretend play based on everyday events can be observed from the age of 2-3 onwards. You might notice your toddler pretending to be a member of the Paw Patrol or acting as a dinosaur, for example.

From my own experiences as a mother of 3, I have noticed that the really intricate dramatic play starts from 4 to 5. My 7-year-old daughter will often lead the way with dramatic play scenarios, involving her younger brother in her games. Typical scenes include a trip to the vets, café and airport!


Welcome to the Pumpkin Cafe: Your Go-To Dramatic Play Idea for Autumn

Autumn is sweeping in with its crisp air, vibrant foliage, and pumpkin-spiced everything. It’s also the perfect season to engage your young children in imaginative activities. If you’re on the hunt for a dramatic play idea for Autumn, look no further!

Not only is this activity fun and seasonal, but it really couldn’t be easier to set up. You don’t really need many resources to create this cafe. If you’re already fully in Autumn mode, chances are that you have already bought some mini pumpkins. We get ours from the local florists and farms in Vienna – the best thing about them is that they are sturdy and last the entire Autumn season – and sometimes well into Winter too!

a blonde 4 year old boy hands over change in a pumpkin cafe - this is a simple dramatic play idea for autumn

The Importance of Finding an Easy Dramatic Play Idea for Autumn

Before we delve into how to set up your very own Pumpkin Cafe, let’s talk about the significance of selecting the right dramatic play idea for Autumn. Dramatic play is vital for nurturing creativity, social skills, and emotional intelligence in children. And what better time to stimulate imagination than Autumn? The fact is, there are so many natural resources such as pumpkins, twigs, conkers, pinecones and leaves that are ideal for dramatic play. It’s easy to go on a nature walk, then use the nature treasures that you’ve find in play.

Steps to Create Your Pumpkin Cafe

Here’s what you could use to get your Pumpkin Cafe up and running:

  1. Pumpkin Tables: Small pumpkins make excellent tables for dolls or stuffed animals.
  2. Menu Items: Think seasonal ‘recipes’ like pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and even pretend pumpkin lattes.
  3. Cash Register: A toy cash register adds a fun, educational twist.

Whilst I am creating printables for dramatic play, check out the free version of Canva to create your own menus. Alternatively, let your children draw and design the menu – this doesn’t have to look perfect and allowing your kids to take the lead gives them full autonomy over their play.

If you have the IKEA Duktig play kitchen, consider adding chalkboard paint or paper to the reverse. That way your child can easily write their own cafe name, along with menu items.

Activities to Consider in This Dramatic Play Idea for Autumn

Once the setup is complete, the dramatic play can begin. Here are some activities to enrich this dramatic play idea for Autumn:

  • Taking Orders: Teach your child to write orders on a notepad – it doesn’t matter if they aren’t writing yet, simple mark making is all part of the learning to write process.
  • Decorate Pumpkins: Use non-toxic markers or paint for pumpkin decorations.
  • Role-Play: Encourage your children to alternate roles between customer and barista.

Take Your Dramatic Play Idea for Autumn Outside

Yes, your Pumpkin Cafe isn’t confined to the indoors! Utilise the natural elements that Autumn offers. Collect leaves for table settings or acorns for unique ‘seasonal specials’—another excellent way to make this dramatic play idea for Autumn more engaging.

If you’re looking for ideas on what to use in an outdoor ‘mud kitchen’ read this post next.


the image shows a saucepan filled with mini pumpkins, chalk and flowers in an outdoor mud kitchen



Dramatic play for Autumn shouldn’t be complicated or costly. A Pumpkin Cafe can be set up with minimal items, yet offer maximal fun. This dramatic play idea for Autumn is not just entertaining but also educational, making it a win-win situation for both parents and kids.

So what are you waiting for? Embrace this dramatic play idea for Autumn and let your kids delve into a world of imaginative play!

an invitation to play with homemade pumpkin spice play dough

Autumn Blog posts to read next:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts


Are you currently planning all things Autumn?

If you enjoyed this hammering pumpkins activity idea, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Autumn at Home Art and Sensory Camp

Family Rhythms for Autumn

Autumn Break with Kids 

Halloween with little kids? 

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.