After two weeks of spring we’re back to snow, and frankly, everyone around here has been a little bummed about it. I had already moved on to outside play in my head, but with the temperatures hovering around 20, an hour-long nature walk just wasn’t in the cards. During some late night Pinterest sessions, I’ve run across a couple super cute wooden sushi sets that look like so much fun. I couldn’t help but think that this was within my DIY wheelhouse – and actually, this is one of the EASIEST DIYs I’ve done in awhile! If you can cut, glue and roll, you’ll be able to finish this entire DIY play sushi set in about 30 minutes.
- Wooden Blocks (we used scraps that measured 3″w x 2″d x 2″h)
- A few sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ craft foam (a #6 recyclable!) or pieces of felt in different colors – we used:
- 2 shades of green as our cucumber and avocado (1 sheet of each)
- red as our tuna wrap (1 sheet)
- salmon orange as our tuna nigiri (1 sheet)
- peach as our salmon nigiri (1 sheet)
- white as our rice (2 sheets)
- black as our nori seaweed sheets (1 sheet)
- Craft Glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue has been a household fav for as long as I can remember)
- Scissors or an X-Acto Knife
- White paint
- Our Play Sushi Menus PDF
Optional: Wooden Serving Tray
- A small piece of scrap wood (or a small cut piece from the craft store – ours measures 12″ x 6″
- 2 small square rods to use as legs (length cut to the same width as your tray-top – ours we’re 1/2″ rods)
- Paint, stain or wood wax if you’d like a smooth finish
If you want to make a serving tray exactly like ours, start by painting the legs (if you’re staining the wood do that now as well – we did not) let dry for about an hour, then glue each square rod onto the wood board 2″ from the sides. Flip over and boom – you have a lovely little tray for serving your sushi and nigiri!
We used a couple of wooden blocks for the rice bottoms of our “nigiri” – paint these white, let dry for about 30 minutes (dependent upon what kind of paint you’re using). While they dry you can start cutting the foam or felt pieces for the sushi and nigiri “ingredients”. You can kind of just eyeball this and play around with sizing on your own – but if you’d prefer to use ours as a template, I’ve laid out the dimensions of ours below…
Once you have all of your foam sushi pieces cut, add a couple pieces of velcro to the front (and then opposite side and back) of whatever you are using for the outer wrap piece. We found that simply using the adhesive-backed velcro worked well to test placement, but the adhesive wasn’t sticky enough to hold for long-term use. Use a few dabs of of craft glue on the back of each velcro piece, place and let dry until completely set (about 30-45 minutes).
When paint and glue has dried completely, you’re ready to roll! We cut quite a few extra “ingredients” and made a few different sizes of rolls so we could make all different kinds. The kids have had a great time figuring out different ways to roll them up and secure them. For the younger kids, it was easiest to pre-roll a couple of the smaller pieces and tie them securely with a long strip of play foam. We discovered that the larger and longer the rolls are, the easier they are for little hands to work with. If you want to throw in a little added fine motor activity, grab some chopsticks and practice picking up the pieces (it’s also much less messy and frustrating than practicing with actual food).
Having grown up playing “restaurant” with my sister, I have vivid memories of both of us obsessing over those little guest order check pads (remember those??) – we got a set at Christmas one year and you would have thought there was a puppy in the box! So just for fun, I threw together a little sushi menu you can print and use along with your own sushi set! Green tip: pick up a package of self-laminating sheets (like these) and you’ll only ever have to print out 1 or 2 sheets (plus, the kids I made these for all agreed that laminated menus are WAY more professional). 🙂
For those who really want to go ALL in on this and make a day of it, why not try making some actual sushi? We have run across some super-fun non-traditional recipes for the pickier-eaters, and some easy more traditional versions for budding foodies!
- Rainbow Vegetable Sushi
- Breakfast Sushi
- PB & J Sushi
- Dessert Sushi
- Turkey & Cheese Sushi Rolls
- Tuna Sushi Stacks
- Coconut Cream Frushi
- Traditional Homemade Sushi