There are so many fun pretend play “roles” that can be taken when playing with toy food. Here are 5 ideas that will breathe new life into your child’s play food fun! Play along parents!
- Your Child as a Restaurant Chef and or a waiter: Put all of your play food in baskets and bins and let the chef compose a menu with the ingredients available. Make sure you have bowls, utensils, and a set of play food pots and pans. Choose one of the dishes presented and let the chef do the cooking. Have him/her tell you what they’re cooking and how it tastes. Is the chef serving as well or is a sibling acting as waiter? How do you rate the restaurants performance? How many stars does the restaurant earn? What are the points of improvement? Will Daddy take Mommy on a Date to the restaurant? Don’t forget to tip the waiter!
- Educational Value: This is a great opportunity to talk about different cooking processes: boiling, steaming, baking, frying etc. You can also introduce your child to different kinds of kitchen utensils to expand their vocabulary and understanding of the tools used by cooks and chefs. Your child will have the opportunity to see what it’s like to have a job and provide service to others. What does a chef/cook/waiter/waitress do? Help them think about that. There’s also an important sequence of events that need to be followed: hand out menus, take order, serve drinks, prepare food, serve food, clear table, leave bill. If it’s not done in order it makes no sense! If do not have our Haba Biofino Bistro menu at home yet, you can have fun preparing for this role play by making up your own menu. You can cut out pictures from magazines, print images from our website or draw your own! You can also show your child how to set a table. You can draw a place setting on construction paper and have them set it to match. Your drawing becomes the place mat!
- Your Child as a Teacher: You can even pretend your child is on a tv show teaching a cooking class.
- Educational Value: You might get a glimps from how the teachers in your kid’s school behave! How do you react -as a pupil- to the teacher’s positive affirmations or your bad grades? A great way to make the kids in charge but show the behaviour you would like to see from them as a pupil all sorts of scenario’s!
- Have Your Child Pretend to be the Parent: Kids love to pretend they are the Mom or Dad so play along and you can be the child! This can be so much fun because your child will likely imitate you and some funny things you say and do in the kitchen! A play kitchen lends itself perfectly to this because it has the stove, oven, sink and storage all in one place. Let your child get busy fussing over you and he/she will be just delighted doing so! A great way to gain some insight in your own parenting style!
- Educational Value: Parents will see first hand their child’s view of what being a parent looks like! Your child, of course, is demonstrating his skills in the kitchen – showing you his understanding of how to cook and prepare food for the family. Your child will feel so much pride in doing this for you. Make sure to praise their great effort and kindness :) They’re also showing you that they understand how the oven, microwave, stove, pots, pans, and utensils work.
- Pretend to Go Grocery Shopping: Start by making a list of everything you need. Then have your play food lined up, in baskets, or any way you can organize it so that you can shop! A shopping net is ideal for this but you can use bags or baskets for carrying groceries. Time to check out! Who’s going to be the cashier? Now pack up your groceries and pay! Use real money, play money, or pretend money!
- Educational Value: Children are often unaware that planning takes place for an event like grocery shopping. Start from the beginning and go over the whole sequence with them: What have we run out of or need more of? We need to make a list. Let’s go to the store. How do we find these things in the store? Let’s put them in our cart. Don’t forget we need a way to carry them home(bag/box). Now let’s pay for our groceries. This is a great opportunity to teach counting and the value of money.
- Pretend to be a Farmer: Turn your play area into a garden oasis! Use your imagination to create a fun area that’s like a farm. Put down a tan blanket and pretend it’s the soil. Take your play food fruits and vegetables and line them in row on the “soil.” Get your picking baskets ready to be filled. Maybe dress up in “rugged” clothing, sunglasses, and a sun hat to really get into the role! Now pick those luscious fruits and veggies! Another option is to “bury” the fruits and vegetables as if they’re seeds. Pretend to water them and have the sun shine on them. Watch them grow and then pick them.
- Educational Value: This role play exposes children to the idea of occupations and professions. Talk about different occupations involving food: grocer, farmer, waiter etc. This role play lends itself to many other fun activities like planning a real garden in the spring. You can also talk about how seeds grow into plants and vegetables, the life cycle in general, and how plants grow. You can draw pictures of your favorite fruits and vegetables and make a collage of garden pictures to proudly display. That can be your indoor garden. It’s also a great time to talk about nutrition, and which food are fruits or vegetables.
Each of these activities can last for a half hour or longer, even with young children. Some children will enjoy it so much they’ll be role playing for days! Enjoy these 5 ideas and add your own in comments! – Thanks to Gummy Lump for inspiration