Play kitchens are a common fixture in preschools and early education centers for good reason. The combination of imagination play and social play makes them particularly useful in helping a child’s cognitive development.
There are several types of play kitchen sets out there, in a variety of price ranges. One of the best, in terms of quality and economics, is the Kidkraft play kitchen. Available in a number of styles (including vintage, a la the 1950s), Kidkraft play kitchen sets are some of the most popular around.
When looking for a pretend kitchen set, there are a few things to consider--size and placement topping the list. Play kitchens are available as either straight units or corner units. Consider where in your house the pretend kitchen will go. Somewhere easily supervised is important. Another thing to consider when placing your play kitchen is how near it is to the real kitchen--somewhere within your eyesight makes for easier supervision and may encourage mimic play.
So what sort of pretend play food games can help with your child’s cognitive development? There are several, ranging from very simple to more complex imagination games. A good place to start is by hiding kitchen accessories, pots, pans, etc., in the cupboards, then let your child find them. Give clues, and encourage your child to think about each one. This is also a fun game in reverse; let your child hide the accessories then take some time finding them. Getting your child to think about which clues to give is an excellent way to help them learn to think logically.
Looking for something a little more complex? Try encouraging your child to try “making” their favorite foods. By stepping through the preparation, from chopping vegetables to sautéing, your child has to plan and think, logically, about how each step follows the next. Working out what comes next takes time, so it’s best to work through this sort of play with your child, and help them understand the processes underlying cooking.
Play kitchens are also a great starting point for group play. Together, children can work to create pretend party foods and host their own birthday parties and afternoon teas. Encourage your children to “clean up” afterwards, too. This sort of play helps a group learn about the fun in working together, and how much easier things can be when working as a team. It’s also a great way to introduce important concepts like fair play and sharing.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about toys and toy brands like Kidkraft play kitchen sets. Click here to download a free Toy Information Guidebook loaded with ideas for parents and helpful tips about popular play toys including articles about play kitchen sets and many other toys.
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