Food and food preparation is a large part of childhood (being fed to learning how to eat to watching food be prepared to going to restaurants). Playing with pretend food, cooking, serving, and shopping are wonderful play and learning activities for children and will evolve as they grow.
Having a pretend kitchen, collection of kitchen items, and play food are perfect toys for discovery and proper development for any young child. My 8 year old decided to set up a restaurant outside on the swing-set. My 10 year old acted as the “Manager”. I ordered and played the customer. Children will learn how to simulate cooking, use their imaginations, negotiate, order, take orders, and more!
Pretend food, empty & clean recycled plastic containers, egg cartons, cereal & pasta boxes, plastic vegetables and fruit, other
Playing store is a great activity with many opportunities for learning, and setting it up is just as fun! I have my children collect empty cereal, pasta boxes, egg containers, plastic containers, or whatever they can find (that is clean) from the recycle bins or cupboards to sell. I help make fake money, find fake credit cards (old library cards or business cards work great), and some change (my 7 years old can do this herself now and loves the challenge). If you don’t have a cashier a calculator works and an old Easter basket/basket works great if you don’t have a shopping cart. I grab a few old bags lying around for filling up the groceries after someone has paid. I faciliate the first few minutes, play a shopper and explain things… but if your children have ever gone shopping with you they know what to do! I even leave our store set up for a few days and they go back again and again. It is hours of fun and learning (changing money, counting, planning, organizing, role playing, and more).