Giving your child a rich learning play environment doesn’t need to cost the earth.
In fact you can give your child the tools to build their imagination and help them grow with just a few simple things:
I can’t think of a child I have known that hasn’t loved play shopping or play cooking.
There are all kinds of play kitchen equipment out there ranging from cheapo crappy plastic ones to absolutely beautiful heirloom style wooden sets.
But at the end of the day, you can get away with spending very little on your play kitchen.
First, get yourself a nice sturdy cardboard box; you can probably pick one up from the supermarket.
With a bit of imagination and a couple of marker pens you can turn your box into an oven and stove and guess what is super cool about this? It can also be used to store your play food.
These days you can buy plastic, wooden or felt food and a set with a few key pieces are worth the investment.
My son loved the wooden pieces that had velcro between them so that you can actually chop the food.
If you can sew, there are lots of free patterns out there to make felt food.
Another way to add food to your child’s pantry is by recycling the packaging from the food that you buy. Make sure that you open the package carefully and once you have emptied it, wipe it clean.
Use some scrunched up newspaper to fill the package then re-seal it using clear sticky tape.
It is important to check that the packaging you are using won’t crack and cause sharp edges, some kinds of plastic packaging can do that.
Also think about the age of your child before giving it to them, you don’t want your 2 year old chewing their way through cardboard boxes.
Wooden cooking equipment is perfect for play cooking and can be found very cheaply or even raid your own kitchen and let them play with the things you don’t use. I’m talking mixing spoons not kitchen knives here!
In fact, the kitchen cupboard is a great place to start, a small milk pan, plastic or metal bowls, storage boxes can all make great play equipment.
Not just for play cooking, many a musician has started out with the saucepans and a wooden spoon.
Just check again that there is nothing the child can injure themselves with when using it.
Shopping bag or basket
Keep your eye out for a child sized eco bag or a small basket. We have several small plastic baskets because there is often a kiwi fruit special on and that is how they are packaged here.
You can then set up a small area of your home as the ‘supermarket’
Food play is not only important for the child’s development, but you can also work in other things as part of the play:
- You can talk about where the food comes from, how bread is made out of flour and flour is made from wheat.
- You can discuss the differences between healthy and unhealthy foods.
- It is a good way to introduce the concept of money and learning about currency.
- Playing as a waiter or waitress can help with reading, writing, listening skills and good manners.
- If you have a set of scales available, you can weigh and measure the food too which helps to develop maths skills.
So, even for the small investment you might make in some kind of play food or play kitchen equipment is actually a massive investment in your child’s education.
Does your child enjoy playing in this way? Please SHARE your experiences below.