I love the sound of children playing. Maybe that’s why I became a teacher. Children learn about their world through play, the more realistic and dramatic the play, the better. I’ve gotten to know hundreds of kids and I know what they like. Young children like to pretend.
“Recent brain research has convinced many parents of the importance of providing their children with stimulating early experiences. Preschool-aged children absorb those experiences and make sense of their world most effectively when engaged in imaginative play. Children who spend more time in dramatic play are more advanced not only in general intellectual development but also in their ability to concentrate for long periods of time.” Here is the rest of this Family Fun magazine article promoting the merits of dramatic play.
Some of the meaningful lifetime skills pretend play builds:
• Emotional skills.
• Social skills.
• Thinking skills.
• Language acquisition and communication skills.
One of my fondest memories was of a kid-sized wooden kitchen that my dad made for me. When my daughter was a toddler, he made her a child-sized dollhouse. The day the new refrigerator was delivered, my son became instantaneously inspired, and in an early act of eco-repurposing he climbed inside the box with his crayons and set up camp in his “new house.”
This is technically not a “from scratch” DIY project, but this kid’s kitchen is a fabulous healthy alternative for two reasons: It’s green and economical. The designer/mom, Anna, writes the popular parenting blog forty-two roads. She designs “Little Cardboard Furniture.” Anna’s kitchen kit for $10 is a bargain. Rather than purchase the popular Little Tykes Kitchen for $100, or a wooden toy kitchen for $300, Anna’s kit doesn’t sacrifice style and saves the pocketbook.
Anna writes about her kitchen, “Corrugated cardboard is an incredibly strong and durable material (no wonder Frank Lloyd Wright built furniture out of it!), yet is at the same time very lightweight and portable. This kitchen maximizes those qualities by being able to always be disassembled and reassembled in minutes! No glue, no nails, no screws–instead, it is held together with a few clever joins that I designed.”
The teacher in me suggests involving kids in the decision-making of what to include in the kitchen. Brainstorm an array of eco-kitchen related objects: Cloth and paper bags for groceries, clean cereal boxes, milk and juice containers, dish towels, plates, cups, silverware and cloth napkins, and curtains. With all the scary news about plastic and their toxins, parents might want consider using real dishes. With durable dishes like Corelle, you don’t need to sacrifice a dish. It’s safe for the dishwasher and resists breaking and is lead-free. These dishes are in abundance at garage sales and second-hand stores.
Want to send an environmentally-friendly message to your kids and engage in some good ‘ol fashioned child’s play? Give a child a kitchen of their own.