One of goals of Less Toys. More Play. series is to take a good long look at the toys you already have at home and decide to keep those that can be used for open-ended play. In other words, for imaginative / creative play where one toy can be used for play in many different ways. Today we have here lovely mommy blogger Amy who will share with us 5 imaginative ways to play with play food:
Hi, I’m Amy. I blog at Umbrella Tree Cafe to share simple ways to learn through play- most of which are invented on the fly with my 2 boys. I also write about art projects and share our family adventures.
I’ve had a play kitchen and pretend food for my oldest son since he could walk and (at almost 5 years old) he and his little brother still use it every day. In fact, the older they get the more imaginative their play surrounding the play food becomes.
Today I’m writing to share 5 different ways my kids play and imagine with play food. All of these activities give the kids a chance to act out real world situations, which they love. You can do these activities with any play food you already have, but I absolutely love the entire line of New Sprouts Play Food From Learning Resources. It’s high quality and really stands up to years of play.
The most obvious way to play with play food is to pretend you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner. Kids can set the table and prepare the meal, then you can all sit down to enjoy it together. But the fun and imaginative possibilities don’t end there.
Several children’s museums near us have a grocery store set up and it’s been a favorite activity since they could toddle around pushing kid size grocery carts. At home, the kids can set up their play food on a bookshelf or table. If you have a Cash Register, set that up nearby. Then let the kids shop until their hearts content, filling their baskets and checking out. You can extend play by having them take their purchases “home” to their play kitchen and put them away in the cupboards. If your children are older, they can even practice writing by creating a shopping list before they head to the store.
Sometimes it’s hard to know how to play with kids, but restaurant is an easy game that can involve the whole family. Now that they are older, they can again practice their handwriting by creating a menu or by writing down our orders. When they were younger, they simply asked us what we wanted to eat and then brought it to us. To keep the game interesting we often made up ridiculous food combinations that the kids had to figure out how to put together. Playing restaurant also gives them the opportunity to practice listening and following directions. They can even set the tables and act out the other roles in a restaurant like host/hostess, chef, etc. You can even add different unique twists to this activity by pretending different types of restaurants, like a pizza shop, ice cream parlor, bakery, food truck, or snack bar. Anyway you can order and purchase food can become a new play scenario for your kids.
Find a basket and pack up your play food for a pretend picnic. You can take it outside or just lay down a blanket and have an indoor picnic. We often play this game and sit on the blanket chatting like we’d do on a real picnic. As you play, talk about real picnics you’ve taken and that will allow your kids to make connections between their play and real life scenarios. You can even model and practice manners by asking the kids to please pass the apple.
Garden or Vegetable Stand
One time I found a leftover bag of potting soil and filled a plastic tub with it. Then we “planted” and harvested our play food veggies. It was a great sensory activity and opportunity to play in the dirt while getting even more use out of our play food. If you want to extend the activity, you can have the kids wash the veggies then set up a vegetable stand and sell them. This Fresh Picked Fruit And Veggie Tote from Learning Resources is our absolute favorite set for playing this game.
I hope these 5 ideas inspire you to really dig into your play time with play food. Even little ones will get into these simple play ideas and you’ll be able to build upon them as they grow.
My name is Amy. I’m on a mission to raise creative kids who love learning and we do that through simple play ideas and reading together every day. Life is an adventure and I share ideas and tips to inspire you to enjoy the journey on my blog Umbrella Tree Cafe.
All 24 articles we will be sharing during February have been written by a number of prominent family friendly bloggers (some educators, all parents). These articles will be collected and you will find them on our page Less Toys. More Play.