Got a lonely play kitchen sat gathering dust and being completely ignored? Here’s a few ways you can bring it back to life before thinking you need to get rid of it.
Play kitchens are a brilliant resource to use with children. There are plenty on the market now available in shops or can be found at a very reasonable price (or often free!) on many second-hand sites.
Play Kitchens encourage young children to practise what they observe in everyday life in their play, which is what kids do best! They are learning from watching us adults and then have the opportunity to copy in their play and learn things for themselves.
This kind of pretend play is the best place to start when it comes to role play! Something most children are familiar with and able to relate to. From a very young age children can enjoy playing in a kitchen and it provides the opportunity for lots of speech and language, communication, storytelling and social skills practise!
However often our lovely play kitchens can lose their novelty and it’s easy to think it’s time to pass this bulky item one, especially when it’s taking up so much room but not being used! But before you do, here’s a few things you can try before you give your beloved play kitchen away!
1. Move it! Often when an item such as a play kitchen or dolls house is sat in the same place for a while, it becomes wallpaper, the kids no longer see it! Often just by moving it, it brings it back to life! If it’s upstairs, bring it downstairs, if it’s inside take it outside! Just move it and see what happens! You’ll be amazed that the kids suddenly start to notice it again!
2. Have less in it! Often play kitchens are crammed full of resources and as we know, too many toys can actually be overwhelming for children. Clutter can put kids off wanting to play and actually make it hard for them to find things and play for an extended period of time. Take this opportunity to have a little sort out and reduce the amount of items available in your kitchen. You don’t need to get rid of anything just bag it up and bring them out again another day and rotate what is on offer.
3. Mix things up! A play kitchen doesn’t just have to be a played with as a kitchen, it can be many many other things! Just by adding a few key items like a notepad, pen, play phone, calculator, till etc can really change things up! Use your play kitchen as a cafe, restaurant, take away, drive-thru, shop etc. There are loads of awesome ways to use your play kitchen, have a look on Pinterest for some inspiration!
4. Give it a makeover! Why not get your kids to add signs, labels, etc to motivate them to play with the kitchen again? This will help them to feel responsible and motivate them to want to play if they have been involved giving the kitchen a little tlc. One of my favourite things to do is paint one side of the play kitchen with chalkboard paint which can then be used in a variety of ways and will encourage little ones to include some mark making in their play!
5. Don’t presume! When it comes to role play, never presume your child knows how to play with it. Yes, they may have spent many hours watching you being busy in the kitchen but sometimes they just need a little prompting and reminding how to play. Sit in the play kitchen with them and demonstrate how to play. Be dramatic and over the top to help them want to follow your lead! I’ve always found from experience having the play kitchen actually positioned in the kitchen helps little ones to play and mimic you whilst you are cooking! Remember children learn by watching us adults at work so encourage them to play alongside you and they will feel like they are involved!
All of these ideas also work for other bulky items like dolls houses, garages, etc. Sometimes just mixing things up a little can really help! Give it a try before you decide to give it away!