Cooking Up Some Play
Playing in play kitchens is one of the ways that children play. This series is about real kids engaged in real play. They are different ages and live in various places across the country.
R is just over 2 but for more than a year, one of the ways that he loves to play is in his kitchen. He puts pretend food in the pots and pans, stirs and mixes, and offers what he makes to others. Both his parents cook, so he models what he does after what he sees his parents doing. Play can last from a few short minutes to a much longer time.
Play is self-directed even if mom or day or someone else is there too. When kids play by themselves like this, we can extend the play with occasional comments. For instance, when a child offers a cup for us to taste, we can ask, “Oh, what did you make?” We can encourage a longer answer by asking, “How did you make this? What did you do?” During interactions, by thanking the kids, asking for more, or negotiating a turn, we provide the words and the example for kids to use.
Play kitchens are more than toys. Just like play comes from within, so does learning. If we could look inside, we would see R’s brain making a vast number of connections. At first, kids will have a challenge simply identifying all the different things. The items will be a variety of colors and sizes too. With all the bits and pieces, one skill he is practicing is making choices. How many times as parents and caregivers, do we worry if our kids will make good choices? Like everything else, this ability will develop if children are given lots of opportunities. Other skills when playing in play kitchens include planning, organizing, concentrating, sharing, counting, and more. What are some of the ways your child loves to play?