Wooden play food and imaginative play

Wooden play food for imaginative play

Whether you call it role play make-believe or playing pretend, imaginative play is a vital part of childhood and should be encouraged. Wooden play food makes the perfect prop for imaginative play as children can take on the role of mum, chef, shop-keeper or farmer, while developing valuable skills through play.

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Children love to mimic us and other people they see in their everyday lives, and because food is naturally part of our life every day there are plenty of opportunities for bringing play food into imaginary play.

Wooden fruit and veg can be used to practice cutting, a trip to the greengrocers or as a healthy snack on an adventure. A wooden birthday cake or box of biscuits is perfect for a tea party, birthday, picnic or midnight snack in their den.

The value of imaginative play

When children role-play they are having fun but they are also processing experiences and making sense of the world. Imaginary play can take many forms but often starts with object substitution, for example pretending your phone is a race car or a banana is a phone and progresses to children acting out things they have experienced or taking on roles they are familiar with.

The process of playing allows them to integrate and strengthen knowledge while working on and building key skills. Children get to reenact situations, try out new skills and practise things they have learnt when they play.

Imaginative play also gives children a safe space in which to express fears or desires as well as developing social skills such as empathy, discipline and decision making.

How children may use wooden play food for imaginative play

As mentioned wooden play food can be used in a variety of role-playing games, and can offer great play and learning opportunities for children.

For example, a set of wooden cutting fruit allows a child to mimic your behaviour when you are preparing food in the kitchen, they get to play at being you. At the same time, they are able to practise using a knife and develop fine motor skills in a fun and safe way.

As they continue the game they may need to share the fruit they have cut between the two of you or between their friends or toys, this involves decisions being made about who should get what, experimenting with fairness and seeing your reactions.

Children encounter lots of problems to be solved while they play that require them to practise their reasoning and problem-solving skills. Eg what to they do if all the fruits are cut in half but they have to share between three people. Equally, they might be selling the fruit in a cafe or shop, giving them the chance to process the experiences they have had on those scenarios.

Play food can also be used to help teach children about the variety of foods available and the different types of food they need for a healthy diet. You could use a shopping game to encourage children to think about what they would like to buy when they go to a real super-market, then bring the food back to their play kitchen and talk about how you might cook things and the different foods they might like to try.

Playing in this way offers children a safe space to think about food as they know it’s not real, and they don’t actually have to eat it.

Play food can also be a great prop for learning about colours and numbers for young children and developing writing and math skills in older children.

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