The Toadstool sells a range of wooden and soft play foods ideal for encouraging creative and imaginary play. Here are some ideas for how to use them.
Imitating Real Life
Children love to do what mummy and daddy do. They love to act out real life scenarios. One of the things we love to do as a family is make our own pizzas, now you cannot eat pizza everyday but children love repetition and having created once in the kitchen with real foods they will enjoy perfecting pizzas again and again through their play. The Haba Pizza Allegro Play Set would the perfect prop for this kind of real life role play.
Children enjoy having tea parties with teddies and feeding their dolls. They love to serve up banquets for friends and create curious concoctions for any adults in the room. The Toadstool has all the ingredients you need for this kind of play.
You can role play chopping vegetables before letting children have a go for real. Practise the skills and go over and over the hygiene and safety rules before moving from playroom to kitchen.
Invite your children to play by setting up cafes and kitchens, tea parties and shops for your little adventurers to explore.
There are so many delicious possibilities for playing with food.
Sorting and Ordering
Young children love to move things around. They love to explore products with all of their senses. Play food can be very tactile and can be used in sensory play. Give the children a basket of soft play food to explore. Watch as they feel each piece. Ask them to talk about colour and size, shape and texture. Which of the foods do they recognise? Are there any that are new? Can they sort into different food groups? Start simple with fruits and vegetables. Can they order the foods according to size?
Patterns and Colours
Toddlers love to explore pattern and colour. It is great to be able to look at patterns and copy them. Sorting objects by colour can be turned into an active game if you put different coloured pieces of paper around the room that your little one has to run to. Patterns can be extended depending on the age of your child. You can also play ‘Guess what comes next’ or ‘Complete My Pattern’. This kind of activity introduces creative thinking and problem solving skills. You can also get the paints out with pattern and colour and try to recreate patterns made with objects on paper. Or perhaps print with a real fruit or vegetable linked to the play ones that you have.
Numbers and Letters
Children have a thirst for knowledge. They love to learn and most of the time through their fun and games they do not realise just how hard they are working or how much information they are processing and remembering. Use your play food to practise counting and grouping, use your play food for looking at simple calculations and simple fractions. A play pizza is great for looking at fractions, also this rather wonderful bag of play pasta would do the trick! Think about the initial letter sound of each item of food, with older children you could put the foods in to alphabetical order.
Bringing Food to Life
If your children are anything like mine then soft play food will be cuddled and coerced into doing all manner of things. Today I found my daughter flying a banana round in a glittery shoe. Children have the most amazing imaginations and sometimes we just have to sit back and let them be. We can give them guidance and structure for much of their play, for much of their day, but it is also important to watch and to listen. Do that and I am certain you will learn so much about your little play mate and what is important to them.
Exploring Songs, Stories and Rhymes
Words are wonderful. Words are all around us. They can be funny, sad, rhyming and utter nonsense. It matters not as long as we surround ourselves with their magic and immerse ourselves in their possibility. Playing with words can be inspirational.
Play food can be used for acting out stories such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Handa’s Surprise. It can be used for singing Five Currant Buns and Five Fat Sausages. There are lots of songs, stories and rhymes about food. There are many online resources and printables to further extend your play. Here are some of our favourites to help you on your way.
Thank you this guestpost was brought to you by Jennie blogging at Edspire.co.uk