Play food sets can provide toddlers endless opportunities for imaginative play. They also compliment play kitchens very nicely when gifted together.
If you are thinking about buying some play food, but you are not quite sure which set is the best, you have come to the right place.
I have put together some information on the benefits of play food, if play food aligns with Montessori, and listed some of the most unique and fun play food sets I could find!
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The benefits of play food sets for toddlers
Pretend play is a normal and healthy part of a child's development.
Through pretend play, children attempt to recreate what they experience or witness in real life. This helps them make sense of the world around them.
Play food sets are beneficial for children, as they allow for imaginative play opportunities. With play food, toddlers and preschoolers pretend to prepare, cook, and serve meals for themselves and others.
Playing with play food helps develop:
- fine motor skills
- gross motor skills
- problem-solving skills
- lauguage and literacy skills
- emotional intellegence
Play kitchens and food are open-ended toys and are great for helping children play independently.
Is play food Montessori aligned?
Montessori favors real-life tasks over pretend tasks. This does not mean there is no place for imaginative play in Montessori learning environments and homes, however.
In Montessori homes, children work with their caregivers on real-life kitchen tasks, but they also experiment and explore cooking concepts through the use of play kitchens and play food.
Though this is a debated topic, my educated take on the play kitchens and play food sets is that they actually complement the Montessori philosophy nicely.
The 11 best play food sets for toddlers & preschoolers
When you think of play food sets, you might just think of the standard ones you see on social media a lot or the generic plastic ones you've seen in the big-box department stores.
There are so many different fun kinds of play food sets, though. There's no reason to settle when it comes to these sets.
Hopefully, you can find a set, or combination of sets, that reflect the food culture in your household.
1. Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set
What toddler doesn't enjoy the taste of sweet fruit? This play food set lets small children pretend to slice and prepare fruit treats for themselves and their friends.
2. Learning Resources Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set
This play food set comes with mock produce baskets that can be used for sitting activities or for farmer's market play.
3. Wooden Barbecue Grill Toy
Many parents involve their toddlers and preschoolers in kitchen activities, but outdoor grilling remains a mystery, as it's not safe to let children help us grill.
This is a really fun set for kids to play with while the caregiver is grilling.
4. Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set
Going out to a restaurant is such a treat for kids. Getting to replicate the experience with parents and siblings is equally special.
Complete with a coffee tank and menu, this play food set really has everything kids need to recreate a special dining experience.
5. Learning Resources New Sprouts Stir Fry Play Food Set
We are a household of stir-fried vegetable lovers. So, I was so excited to find this veggie and Wok set.
If your child has not yet been introduced to all the delicious ways vegetables can be prepared, this is a fantastic play food set to do just that.
6. Growing Vegetables Wooden Playset
This is such a cute play food set that doubles as a gardening toy. Toddlers and preschoolers get to “dig up” their own little vegetable garden and cook up a healthy, fresh meal in their play kitchen.
7. PairPear Wooden Play Food Cutting Meat Set
This is a fun play food set for toddlers and preschoolers that focuses on meat and cheese. It comes with a play knife so kids can pretend to cut the play food, as well.
8. Let's Make a Pizza – Pretend Food Playset with 4 Wooden Pie Slices
This is a great play food set for topping-averse toddlers. It gets them excited about experimenting with their pizza.
This is my favorite pizza-making play food set, as the pizza ends up looking a lot more realistic that with other sets.
9. Learning Resources New Sprouts Soup's On!
There's little that's healthier or more comforting than home-cooked soup. I just love this set, as it helps children understand the creativity and simplicity that comes with preparing soup.
10. Hape Egg Carton
Do you have a toddler who enjoys cracking eggs with you while you cook? If so, they are sure to enjoy this unique Hape egg toy.
11. Melissa & Doug Fill & Fold Taco & Tortilla Set
This is a really neat play food set that lets kids cook taco filling ingredients on a play skillet, then wrap them in a play tortilla.
The ingredients all fasten together inside the tortilla with hook and loop strips and children can then pretend to add their favorite sauces.
You see, there are so many play food sets to choose from and each of them has something unique to offer children in the way of creative play.
Do you have a play food set that your child absolutely loves? Leave a comment or drop me an email. I'd love to hear about it!
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