Friday, January 27, 2012

Kitchen Play

I really would have liked to get Gus a play kitchen for Christmas, but it was unfortunately not in our gift-buying budget this year. I thought he would get a kick out of mixing things together, making tasty "treats" to serve up to Jon and me. And it would be a great long-term toy, something that would last for years.

Of course, then I realised this week, that he doesn't really need a purpose-built mini kitchen and matching accessories to cook up delicious concoctions. So I set out to find some pieces that could bring the fun of the kitchen to him.

So far, the backbone of his kitchen play has been this stainless steel mixing bowl.

I actually received a pair of these (small and large) for Christmas to use myself but, remembering Melissa's suggestion, thought that they would make a great matching set for Gus and I to use together.  He already has access to our lower cabinets, which have a load of bowls, chopping boards, and saucepans that he sometimes gets out. I added some empty spice jars, a whisk, a spatula, and some play food that he got for Christmas, and his kitchen was complete! He stands on his little table so he can reach the counter next to me. As I chop vegetables for dinner, I pass him the peels and ends, which he mixes up diligently, adding this spice or that, transferring from one bowl to the other. Or, I give him a small snack in the bowl, which he can mix and taste as needed.

Trying to find a clear space on the counter in our
little kitchen is the hardest part of this game!

To me, this doesn't sound nearly as exciting as a brand-new, brightly painted purpose-built model kitchen, with burners, an oven, cabinets to open, etc, etc. But I think sometimes the flashes and bangs are more for the parents--I mean, how many times have we heard the story of children opening expensive new presents, only to play with the cardboard box the toy came in until it disintegrates underneath them. We've only really been cooking together for a week now, but so far, Gus's reaction has borne this out. He seems to love cooking. He has even tried to pull the table in from the living room to the kitchen on his own to start playing. This is great, as it forces me into the kitchen to tackle the never-ending pile of dishes I have stacked in there!  (I am also trying to convince him that he can actually cook while standing on the floor with the bowls on his small table, but he doesn't believe me so far. He is going through a phase at the moment where the way a thing was done the first time is the way things ALWAYS MUST BE DONE FOREVER.)

I'll probably still keep an eye out for a good price on a little kitchen, but I am really happy with this solution. In some ways, this is even better, as it gets the two of us in the kitchen together, and he starts to learn about food and cooking--an important life skill, and a great source of enjoyment.


  1. Your system sounds fantastic! I would love a gorgeous, wooden play kitchen for Annabelle myself but I think you're right on - the bells and whistles are appealing to *us.* For children, it seems to be more about getting involved and having a chance to try the things they see us doing every day. There is so much more context with the real objects you use in real work in the kitchen, and Gus looks like he is loving it! Can't wait to hear what you two come up with in the weeks to come@

  2. Love this because it is the only way I ever cook, bake, or clean in the kitchen. Ever since dominic could walk, whenever I am in the kitchen he would get one of the dining room chairs and push it over so he could help me. He used to be content with the extras and "fake" food (meaning not the food I am making) but it just doesn't do it anymore. So now he helps be adding in some of the ingredients, like the measuring cup of flour and he often mixes for me. It takes longer but I love that he wants to help and is learning. Plus he is happy as a clam. :)

  3. Very cute, and I'm sure Gus loves it just as much as any toy kitchen!