The other day my 5 1/2 year old daughter was having one of her after school moods.
“I don’t know what to do!!!” She yells out at me.
“How about you bake us some pretend play cookies in your kitchen?” I calmly suggest.
“There’s nothing for me to bake with … and besides we’re not allowed to make a mess in the play kitchen.” She says cheekily.
“Well … let’s … use … these!” I improvise, pointing at our basket of random play items.
“Hmm.” I hear her mutter as she reluctantly grabs the basket but can’t help being intrigued by it’s content and possibilities …
Now, let me tell you a bit more about this glorious combination of loose parts and a simple invitation to play.
Using Loose Parts to Make Pretend Play Cookies
For those of you following this blog it is no secret that a while ago I had a little epiphany after reading the Theory of Loose Parts and have been a huge fan of using loose parts in everyday play at home ever since.
The beauty about loose parts is that they can be anything. Any random item will do. Some times we use natural materials like we did here and other days we use recycled materials, like we did here. But this week we didn’t look further than our regular old toy box.
We gathered blocks, pegs, pats of the farm set, some play food items, mini animals, gems and random bits and pieces from the craft basket we still had out.
It turned out to be a wonderful collection that sure made for some interesting cookie making …
As soon as I started out playing alongside my 5 year old bored daughter, my almost 3 year old son joined in. Within minutes I was dismissed. These two decided to open up a little bistro for hungry Mommies and Daddies.
Before long they were making menus, creating all kinds of pretend play cookies, baking their goodies, setting the table and writing invites. I was no longer allowed in the living room but required to be on ‘stand by’ the moment the cookies were ready. That sounded a lot like ‘why don’t you go sit down for five minutes’ to me! (And, why yes, I will!)
The business in the play kitchen was a joy to observe and it warmed my mother heart beyond belief to see sister and brother working together so beautifully.
The pretend play cookies were just about ready when Daddy came home from work. We both oohh’d and aahh’d over the delicacies presented to us and got extensive information about what each cookie was made from and what taste we could expect. My personal favourite? The orange and vanilla cake with the fish eyes. Yum.
And so you see that the simplest and most spontaneous play ideas can be the best. Over the years I’ve noticed how kids love it when things are taken out of context. They are naturally curious and willing to explore new possibilities. They love to come up with silly things and love it even better when Mom and Dad play along and are good sports about ‘tasting’ everything they made. (I draw the line at tasting real mud pies though!)
So next time your children are bored or in your hair, perhaps you can have a little look around and see if you can invite them to play with something out of the ordinary.
Have you got any out of the box easy play ideas? I’d love to hear!
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