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7 Ways to Play With A3 - Play Food Set

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.

This is the first day that we had the pretend kitchen… we hadn’t even gotten the food and dishes in it yet.

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 - Play Food Set

7 Ways to Play With a Pretend Kitchen

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. Restaurant
    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).6f80c829b3cc3cb46ec0ddad52ef8300
  4. 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.IMG_7652
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. “House”
    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.IMG 7640 e1531188411228 - Play Food SetIMG 4112 1 e1531188345322 - Play Food SetSometimes 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.

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harmony kitchen full set p47096 831084 image - Play Food Set

Let’s rustle up some deliciously mouth-watering imaginary feasts!

Children love playing different roles and scenarios in imaginative play. Play kitchens are a particularly popular resource for pretend play, as it gives children the opportunity to imitate situations that they are familiar with. Whether they are playing the role of a head chef, waiter, kitchen porter or parent at home, play kitchens allow children to imagine themselves in new roles and cook up exciting scenarios.

Kitchen role play isn’t just a fun activity for children, it also benefits a child’s development! Young children learn through play and are always exploring and experimenting – so we’ve compiled a list of the key benefits that play kitchens give children.

Encourage your budding little chefs to cook up the ultimate fantasy banquet today!

The Benefits of Play Kitchens for Children

Creativity and Imagination

Kitchen role play is an exciting and fun activity, which stretches the children’s imagination and enriches their creativity. It gives children the chance to concoct their own imaginative recipes and explore different pretend ingredients. They enjoy experimenting with the various pretend utensils and appliances to create imaginative scenarios, either mimicking actions of adults they have seen or formulating their own uses for the objects they use.

Language and Communication

Role play gives children the opportunity to express themselves creatively and engage in storytelling. Children vocally enact the role that they are playing, which enhances their language development and communication. Kitchen role play widens a child’s vocabulary as they begin to learn the names of new objects and foods, whilst also using new verbs such as “cook” and “stir” and opposites such as “hot” and “cold”.

Social Skills and Teamwork

Play kitchens encourage the little ones to engage in play with other children, which enhances their social development. They create discussions around who will play what role, what they should cook and how they are going to do it. This inspires children to work as a team and cooperate so that they can get the job done quicker – encouraging them to share, take turns and listen to other people’s opinions and ideas about what to cook.

Planning and Organisation

Children typically enjoy the process of organising their pretend kitchens – determining different roles and organising different food types into sections. They tend to discover that kitchen play becomes a more enjoyable activity if their play kitchen is organised. Children may store their pretend ingredients away in the cupboards and neatly organise the plates and cutlery for their guests – all whilst planning what they are going to cook next and who will get what meal!

Life Skills

When children engage in kitchen role play, they are acting out real life occupations and situations that they are familiar with. This teaches children the basic cooking and cleaning concepts, which enriches their understanding of the world and develops their life skills. Whether they are pretending to set the table, wash the dishes or bake a cake, kitchen role play tends to heighten their empathy for others because it gives them an insight into what it would be like to cook in the kitchen or work as a chef.

Independence and Self-Confidence

By providing children with their own play kitchen, it gives them a sense of independence, which increases their self-confidence. They fully adopt the role of working in a kitchen and become responsible for keeping it clean, organising the belongings and caring for the different items in the kitchen. When children undertake real life kitchen roles and play superior roles such as head chefs, they also start to develop great leadership qualities as well.

Problem Solving

Kitchen role play enhances a child’s cognitive ability and problem-solving skills. If problems arise, such as a fork going missing, it forces children to come up with a solution – whether that is substituting the fork for something else or going out of their way to find the lost item.


Play kitchens also help to improve a child’s numeracy skills. Children may count how many plates they need, weigh ingredients or count how many minutes the food needs to be in the oven for, which enhances their mathematical learning while they play.

Visual Recognition

Play kitchens give children the opportunity to identify new objects and food. You can stock play kitchens with a variety of items, which also gives children the chance to categorise the different food types and utensils as well.

Healthy Food Choices

By promoting different types of pretend food, such as fruitvegetableseggs and meat, it encourages children to make healthier food choices. They imagine the food they have cooked in appetising scenarios, which tends to encourage them to try eating that food in real life as well.

Fine Motor Skills

Play kitchens also help to develop a child’s fine motor skills, as they are picking up accessories in their kitchen and using the tools in play situations.

Time to pop on those little aprons and whip up some yummy imaginary goodness!


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