Having a kitchen toy is such a great thing, it can provide new experiences every day and enrich your child’s imagination. Perhaps you already went through my thoughts on best age for play kitchen and you decided to get a kitchen toy for your little one or maybe you are just looking for more arguments before making an informed decision, so let’s talk about some ideas for kitchen role play.
Little chef – wash, cut the wooden vegetables and place them back together
This is a great simple role play idea for toddlers. They can imagine they are prepping the vegetables for cooking, just like their parents are doing while cooking dinner. It is great for fine motor skills development, and it also engages their logical thinking, as they have to sort which piece comes where when they put them back together.
Restaurant – receive orders and cook meals
A wonderful idea for older children, who can grasp the idea of a restaurant and how it works, they can imagine they are a chef, cooking for a living. This role play is particularly nice if they play it with a friend/sibling who can impersonate the waiter. As they grow, this game can evolve into a realistic, detail oriented one (the waiter can write down orders, putting the notes on the kitchen top, for the chef to see them, they can set up restaurant tables, and they can even start making real food, some sandwiches, and serve them to real people at an event).
Even if they play it alone, it can be fun by involving their dolls or teddy bears, or which toy they prefer. My kids once set up their little table and had a doll, a stuffed toy snake, a T-Rex figurine to eat and have some tea. It was definitely an unusual group, but they quite enjoyed that play.
Food to go
Though it seems similar to the previous one, it brings the element of packing up the food nicely, and it’s even more interesting. Since we’ve been all living through a pandemic for more than a year now, our children have come to notice that we no longer go to restaurants that often, given that they were or still are closed. For the last year, in the attempt of trying to support the horeca industry, we have ordered food on Friday evenings. The kids love to go out and take the food left on the steps, they like to unpack, and so we came with this idea. We made some boxes for “food to go” and now we pretend to call their restaurant, order food, and they prepare it and then leave it on the doorstep, pretending to ring an imaginary doorbell.
When they are older, I suggest helping them write and draw a menu from which you can order.
This one can be played by both older, but also smaller children. The older they are, the more you can advance with the rules. It’s best played by at least two children, but it can be done with just one child as well. First you set the rules: you must cook a give dish in a given amount of time and then set it up on a plate nicely and serve it so it can be tasted. I suggest you use a timer so they can know when their time is over, you can also let them know along the way how much they have left. You can also help them by giving them a picture-to-picture recipe, so they know which steps to be followed. It would be nice to give them recipes they are familiar with, given they have to do it fast, otherwise it might generate too much frustration.
Organizing the fridge after grocery shopping
One of the things we do in our house is cleaning the fridge before we go grocery shopping and when we return, we like to organize them nicely in the fridge and pantry, so we can reach them easily. The kids noticed this, and they started to role play it. They use some diy cloth bags for shopping that we painted a few months ago, and they use cloth towels to tidy the kitchen nicely before they organize everything.
This goes well together with grocery shopping role play, another great role play for them.
Preparing the food for a barbecue
It’s a sunny warm day, you wouldn’t want your kids to stay indoors, but they really want to play with their kitchen toy. There’s a middle way to this situation, having a play grill with sounds. This way, they can prep the food indoor, and take the grill outside, where they can have a barbecue while enjoying the fresh air and some sun.
Preparing a meal for the family
It might seem too easy, but I think this one is the number one play my kids have. I think it helps them relate to us, their parents, because they see us cooking every day, and they obviously want to imitate what we do.