It might require a fair bit of preparation and clearing up afterwards, but there’s no denying that most children love to have some creative fun in the kitchen or engage in imaginative play with pretend foods. We’ve summarised 10 top reasons why this sort of play is so important to a child’s development.
1) Boosting social skills
Youngsters engaged in imaginative cooking play are likely to engage in discussion about what they are doing, observe what other play mates decide to ‘cook’ and share the ingredients or utensils they are using.
2) Improving vocabulary and reading skills
Whether it’s reading the recipe or the name of ingredients, cooking play provides ample opportunities to practise basic reading skills. With each new ingredient they can extend their vocabulary and consolidate this knowledge by using the ingredient for a specific purpose.
3) Practising numeracy skills
Weighing out ingredients, counting eggs, measuring sugar, such processes compound a youngster’s understanding of mathematics. Simple addition, subtraction and even division can also be practised once the cookies/pizza/cupcakes are removed from the oven – real or otherwise!
4) Developing time telling
Cooking with children is a great chance for them to practise telling the time, whether it’s at a very basic level of working out when the food went in to the oven, to working out how long it needs to cook for and therefore when they should check to see if it’s ready.
5) Learning through sensory play
Kneading, mixing, tasting, smelling, watching bread rise, these sorts of activities provide new experiences through sensory actions. Exercising each of their senses will allow them to maximise their learning potential.
6) Sparking creativity
We may not approve of the ingredients they mix in to a salad/add as a pizza topping/stick on top of a cupcake but the process allows them to experiment with ingredients and flavours and simply have some control over the end result. Role play cooking with pretend ingredients is particularly useful for allowing very young chefs to go wild without the mess!
7) Tempting a fussy eater
An ordinarily fussy eater may well be more tempted to try a new dish or ingredient if they have prepared it themselves or placed it on their own plate. Obviously this is not so desirable if the dish they’ve prepared is made from salt dough or plasticine!
8) Making sense of the world
Discussing where an ingredient has come from, why they need to be cooked in a specific way and why some foods are better for us than others, are just some areas of discussion that help children improve their general understanding of the world around them. It can also help establish the foundations of a healthy eating attitude.
9) Satisfaction of completing a process
Seeing the cooking process through from beginning to end creates immense satisfaction and a confidence-boosting exercise for any youngster. Having read the recipe, literally got their hands dirty mixing the ingredients and endured the wait before seeing (and sampling) the end result, is bound to make any budding young chef pretty proud.
10) Wide age range applicability
Cooking and role play cooking are fun, educational experiences for a broad age spectrum of children. Preschoolers can master a simple recipe with adult help and steadily progress on to more complicated recipes. It’s also a great activity to enjoy as a family.
Bigjigs Toys offer a wide selection of cooking role play toys, from kitchen appliances to role play food and baking sets – all available to purchase from our website
Do you enjoy cooking with your child/children? Share your ‘cooking with children’ tips with us and be entered in to our competition to win a Bigjigs cooking role play bundle worth over £40, comprising:
Comments must be posted by midnight on 19.02.15. On 20.02.15 the author of one cooking tip will be selected at random and announced here on our Big Blog and on our Facebook page. Full Terms and Conditions can be found here
**COMPETITION WINNER: HEIDI BROWN**
Congratulations Heidi, we’ll email you to arrange delivery of your prize.