My kids have a pretend kitchen that they LOVED when it was new to them. They spent at least an hour every day playing with it. After a couple of weeks, they got kind of bored, though, and I found myself just picking up the play food and dishes off the floor after they were dumped out and not played with.
I contemplated getting rid of the entire playset but knew I would regret it as soon as it was gone.
The only option was to find ways to make it more fun and exciting for the kids so I began brainstorming some ways to play with it.
It worked! I taught the kids a couple of new ways to use the pretend kitchen playset and they fell in love with it all over again.
7 Ways to Play With a Pretend Kitchen
- Cooking/Following recipes
I know that most toddlers can’t read but that doesn’t mean they can’t follow directions! Using pictures with just a few words is all they need, and usually, they can figure it out from there. They use the pictures as a guide and eventually, they may start recognizing the words that are included with the picture. Even if they can’t figure out what the recipe is calling for, they can still pretend to create a meal or a treat from a recipe. If they see you do it when you’re cooking real food, they’ll be so excited to be able to do it with their play food. You can create recipes using Canva (if you click the link it’ll take you right to their recipe card template!) or even just Microsoft Word. Keep it short and simple, and don’t forget the pictures! The recipes (I’ve only made 2) I created for them are not even close to as cool as some of the ones I’ve found on Pinterest so I definitely plan on stepping my game up there.
- Grocery shopping/Putting food away
We don’t have a grocery store set up, but I just take small baskets and sort out some of the food that way and then they come through with their shopping carts and choose which food they would like to “buy”. We use play money for this.. we actually made it ourselves and it looks NOTHING like real money aside from the fact that it is green. You could use monopoly money or anything else you have. After they “buy” their food, they push the shopping cart “home” to the kitchen playset and begin putting it away. When I first had this idea I was worried they wouldn’t want to put it away but turns out they really like to do it! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because when I go grocery shopping they love to help put groceries away.
This one is their FAVORITE!! We use the play money, a tablet, and a pencil. I sit at the table and they come over to take my order. Then they go and prepare/cook whatever it is I ordered and serve it to me. It’s so much fun. I want to take this a step further and make a menu for them soon. There are a couple menus I’m considering.. the first one you can purchase (this isn’t an affiliate link, however) and the second one could be made at home. If you don’t feel like creating your own you can buy one for pretty cheap on Teachers Pay Teachers (pictured below).
- Setting the table
Josie really enjoys this one. I used paper and traced a toy plate, fork, spoon, knife, and cup onto 2 different pieces of paper. I also wrote the word out for what goes where because we are working on recognizing words. When the kids are setting the table they use the paper as a placemat and place everything where it belongs. We usually do it before we play restaurant.
- Washing dishes
This one is fun because they love to “wash” dishes. I’ll admit, this is the one we do the least often because it usually results in them asking for real water in their kitchen playset. I let them do this sometimes. Other times I tell them to just pretend or to pick something new to play.
- Pizza shop
I have a small tote where I store all of their “pizza” pieces. These pieces were all cut out on paper, but plan to re-do them on felt soon. I cut a circle on brown paper for the crust, small red circles for the pepperoni, and a bunch of small yellow pieces for the cheese. You could also include green peppers, mushrooms, ham, pineapple, etc.
I’m honestly just not sure what else to call this one… Josie likes to play mommy and feed her baby doll. She puts her baby’s highchair right next to the kitchen and cooks for her, then pretends to feed her the food.Sometimes she sneaks real food for her baby doll
Usually, throughout all of the “cooking” activities, they wear a chef hat and apron that I picked up at Dollar Tree.
You will definitely need play food to go along with the kitchen playset. The pretend kitchen comes with a little, but not enough.