Tiny Tigers Pizza Palace

Even for those who had been to a restaurant before (and very likely, some hadn’t!), their recent experience dining at Tiny Tingers Pizza Palace is definitely one Riley Preschool Annex children will remember forever.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

Tiny Tigers Pizza Palace


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

Riley Preschool Annex in South Plainfield, New Jersey, is a brand-new school. Recipients of a state preschool expansion grant, 13 classrooms of preschool children and their teachers moved into a newly-constructed building in September 2023 and began implementing Tools of the Mind schoolwide. 

Going big for Restaurant theme!

The teaching staff, many of whom are new to Tools this year, enjoy a special camaraderie, collaborating together in a school where everyone is teaching preschool and everyone is a Tools teacher! Moving through their theme units together, says Preschool Instructional Coach Tara Martinetti, provides a wonderful opportunity for the school to plan whole-school events that capture real-world experiences related to Tools theme units. 

Described by Assistant Principal David Zatta as a “Tools guru,” Martinetti knew she wanted to “go big” for the Restaurant unit and teachers and staff were all about it. The day before the big event, the whole building came together to decorate. 

On the first day of February, Tiny Tigers Pizza Palace opened for business with Martinetti posing as hostess and teachers and staff as servers. They were ready for their tiny customers to arrive!

Martinetti greeted the children, who checked in with “reservations” and were given menus and escorted to red-and-white table-clothed tables where they picked seats amongst their friends. A chef from a nearby restaurant came to conduct a “flour demonstration” and distributed pizza dough to all customers for some make-believe pizza-making before they were served their (real!) pizza lunch.

Parents were invited and many tied on aprons and volunteered to help. Others took photos from the sidelines, happy to capture the fun. Children’s jaws dropped as they saw their own families waiting for them in the Riley cafeteria, in on the surprise.

Keep an eye on Riley Preschool Annex! 

Riley school leaders are invested in creating both memorable experiences for their students and opportunities to connect meaningfully with families and their larger community. Zatta, new to Tools himself, is enthusiastic about embracing Tools themes to meet these goals. 

Zatta and Martinetti are hoping to bring a Pizza Palace-worth of excitement to every Tools theme. Since their Restaurant event, they hosted a Tiny Tiger Clinic to bring an experiential component to Medical theme. That day, children were invited to bring their “patients” (stuffed animals from home) to see real medical professionals in their own classrooms. And the two have already put plans in place to bring in a veterinarian and therapy animals as capstone events for Pet/Vet theme. 

Their creativity and enthusiasm makes Riley Preschool Annex a school to keep our eyes on! And the South Plainfield local paper agrees. Click to read the Tap into South Plainfield article on Riley’s Pizza Palace and see more photos of the event.