Kitchen toys are common in many homes with young children, and there is a reason for this. Research has shown that pretend play encourages children to apply newly-learned skills to meaningful life activities. Many child development experts believe this process not only helps a child develop a skill, but teaches them how to apply that skill to real life.
A play kitchen should be supplemented with a variety of play kitchen accessories. These can include pots, pans, aprons, oven mitts, play food, and much more. Play kitchen accessories are available from most toy stores. For a larger selection, go online and search for brands like Learning Resources or Kidkraft kitchen toys. These brands offer a variety of play kitchen toys. Kidkraft also offers about a dozen different kitchen appliance sets, which offer kids a great way to take their role playing to a whole new level. These can also be found in many retail stores and even discount stores for an affordable price.
It is important that all play kitchen accessories be non-toxic and that they do not present a choking hazard. Even if your child can’t read, you can also make pretend recipe cards out of blank 3”x5” cards. You can even allow the child to “create” several pretend recipes.
Kitchen toys can be used to teach children about safe food preparation. Kids love to reenact daily life, and will enjoy pretending to cook dinner. Parents can use this opportunity to teach the importance of hand washing or caution when using knives.
These toys also help familiarize children with different types of foods. Parents can use this opportunity to familiarize children with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacks. Often this familiarity will overflow into their real-life food choices when the kids choose to eat these healthy snacks. Play food toys today include a great selection that includes the major food groups as well as food packages to put into a pretend refrigerator. Melissa and Doug offers a big selection of wooden play food toys that even includes sushi. Plastic play food sets are available from brands like Learning Resources and Kidkraft kitchen toys.
Maintaining a pretend kitchen will help teach a child about multi-tasking and organizing. Adding a small egg timer can teach a child how to manage their time so that all of their “recipes” will finish at the right time. Most play kitchens come with at least some cupboard space, and parents can teach children about the importance of keeping these cupboards neat and organized. As children put away their pretend food, parents can encourage them to think about each food and where they will place it in their cupboards.
Pretend play also gives children an avenue to safely explore their thoughts and emotions. They can learn about sharing and become less egocentric as they consider other peoples’ views. They will also develop problem solving skills as they encounter challenges and find solutions for those problems.
Regardless of a child’s age, pretend play should be nurtured and encouraged. Parents should not place gender-specific limits or any other limits on pretend play. Healthy pretend play will develop a child’s imagination and cognitive skills, which will have a positive impact later in the child’s life.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about kitchen toys. Click here to download our free Kidkraft kitchen guidebook filled with tips, ideas and information.
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