Make: An Easy No-Sew DIY Play Sushi Set

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. When in doubt (and indoors!) I always turn to creative dramatic play prompts, and restaurant themes are always one of our favorites.

Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

Another favorite thing ‘o mine is finding ways to incorporate learning about new cultures, foods, and languages into the mix – with this no-sew sushi set I was able to do all three! Combined with our cardboard French market food set or paper-mâché food-on-a-stick, we’re well on our way to a round-the-world tour.

To make your own no-sew DIY play sushi set you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC DIY SUSHI SUPPLIES:

  • Hardwood or basswood blocks (we used scraps that measured 2-inches x 3-inches x 2-inches)
  • 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, red, orange, peach, white and black)
  • Velcro
  • Craft glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue is a household fav)
  • Scissors or an X-Acto knife
  • White paint

SERVING TRAY SUPPLIES:

OPTIONAL PLAY EXTRAS:

No-Sew DIY Play Sushi Set Instructions:

  1. Cut pieces of foam or felt into sushi wraps and pieces according to our dimensions

    Gather 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 we used for ours below…

    Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

    Rice = (1) Piece of thin white foam/felt cut to 11 inches by 3 inches
    Nori = (1) Piece of thin black foam/felt cut to 5.35 inches by 3 inches
    Tuna = (1) Piece of thick orange foam/felt cut to 2 inches by 3 inches
    Salmon = (1) Piece of thick peach foam/felt cut to 2 inches by 3 inches
    Cucumber = Multiple 1/4 inch strips of thick green foam/felt
    Avocado = Multiple 1/4 inch strips of thick light green foam/felt

  2. Paint wooden blocks white to use as the rice on the bottom of your nigiri

    We used a couple of wooden blocks for the rice bottoms of our “nigiri” – paint these white, let them dry for about 30 minutes (dependent upon what kind of paint you’re using). 

  3. Add small strips of velcro to your nori wrap pieces

    Once you have all of your foam sushi pieces cut, add a couple of 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 craft glue on the back of each velcro piece, place, and let dry until completely set (about 30-45 minutes).
    Add velcro to your felt or foam nori pieces.

  4. Roll “ingredients” into your “rice” and “nori” wraps

    When the paint and glue have 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.
    Roll pretend play ingredients into your felt or foam nori wraps.
    For the littlest ones, 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 some added fine motor activity, grab chopsticks and practice picking up the pieces (it’s also much less messy and frustrating than practicing with actual food).

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 play sushi and nigiri!

Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

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 play sushi menu printable set you can customize, print, and use along with your own sushi set!

Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

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). 🙂

Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

Extra Credit: Try making real sushi (traditional or alternatives)!

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!

For a BIG collection of more kitchen play activities, our favorite kids’ kitchen tools, and printable safety rule templates visit our hands-on kitchen learning list!

Make an easy DIY sushi play set complete with a printable order menu! | via barley & birch

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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