Thinking back to my own preschool days, I remember wanting to get there early so I could play with the most popular toy – the kid-sized kitchen. It was stocked with all of the pretend food, pots, pans and fake knives a four year old could dream of. Oddly, all of the kids in the preschool class treated the kitchen toy with an odd reverence – it turned friends into pretend roommates or spouses, it fed dolly families, and whoever was playing with it felt pretty darn important. No one ever asked us to clean up the little kitchen – it was an unspoken rule. The play kitchen always had to be clean when you were done cooking.
Now, one would guess that a preschooler’s favorite toy would be something a little more modern. A kid-sized cell phone? An iPad? Obviously kids love these. But I observed an unexpected phenomenon the other day at Ikea – kids had formed a line to play with the pretend kitchen set display in the childrens’ section.
Kids love to pretend they’re adults, so if they see you cooking, they’re going to want to cook! And for a lot of us, the kitchen is a place where the family comes together. It makes sense that kids would love to have their own little culinary corner.
DIY Play Kitchens
If you have a few pieces of old furniture lying around, think about how you can repurpose them into awesome playsets. I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of my old TV stand! This one’s an old entertainment center repurposed by Double Take Decor.
Box Store Heroes
Of course, the box stores know all about how much kids love play kitchens. While the mass-produced look may not exactly be your thing, you gotta admit that this walk-in kitchen looks like a lot of fun. Let’s ignore the gender issues in the picture and focus on how much I wanna play in that thing as an adult, even though I have my own grown-up kitchen.
An additional bonus with these is that they come with the food.
Here’s the Ikea one I saw on my trip last week. Pretty cute, and the price is right at $99 (Canadian).
Handmade Play Kitchens
If the box stores (and all the girls talking on the phone in all of the product pictures) give you the creeps, there are always adorable alternatives.
This one from Etsy seller The Cuckoo Clocks comes in three different color combos that and make me want to paint my own kitchen to match.
Want a much cheaper alternative? This one is just a pair of felt surfaces that mimic the kitchen sink and rangetop, so with a little imagination any surface in your house (or anywhere, really) can become a pretend cooking space.
Are you worried about accessories for your kid’s play kitchen? You could always buy a fancy kitchen set, or cool wooden or crocheted food pieces from hip artisans.
Or, you could buy one very cheap thing and see how your kids’ imaginations stack up.
Happy cooking! Don’t forget to take turns as sous chef in each others’ respective kitchens!