Originally posted 2/17/20; Updated 7/16/20
We love making crafts that we can actually play with. Over the past several months, we have come up with quite a collection of DIY play food. My kids love playing make believe. They are often chefs, grocery shoppers or bakers, so our play food gets tons and tons of traction.
ALL THE BENEFITS OF DIY Play Food CraftS
In our opinion, there are tons of benefits to making your own pretend food. We find that making your own play food can:
🍎 encourage imaginative play! 🍎
After crafting, my kids are usually eager to play with their creations right away. I love listening to them play together in such a creative way. This comes in handy especially when I'm cooking dinner, because it gives me some extra time to get dinner on the table.
More importantly, imaginative play has real benefits to kids' development. When kids play pretend with play food or other toys, they have a chance to practice their developing language and social-emotional skills. Kids can engage in pretend dialogue and practice sharing and taking turns. Playing "restaurant" or" store" also gives kids a chance to experiment with different social roles and to take into account others' perspectives.
You can read more about the importance of pretend play in this great article for parents by Scholastic. Connie at Kid Chenz also gives a great overview of pretend play and its benefits, along with tips for parents on how to encourage their kids' imaginative play.
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🍎 increase the odds that kids will Eat Their Food 🍎
We usually create a pretend version of the main ingredient from our meal (like our Play Food Carrots). This allows the kids to make a connection between what they’re making and what they’re eating. When my kids understand that the ingredients going into a meal aren’t so scary or gross, they are usually more likely to eat the meal. The USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource for teaching kids about healthy foods and nutrition.
🍎 Help kids learn about food 🍎
When making our play food, we usually discuss some fun facts about the foods we are designing, like their origin and nutritional benefits. These discussions often spark more questions and curiosity about how foods are produced and harvested.
According to Dr. Jennifer Cohen, the Fussy Eating Doctor, parents can start teaching kids about food by discussing the parts of food and what they do for kids' bodies. According to Cohen, this can send a more personal and meaningful message to kid. Some good sites for this info are: Choose My Plate (by the USDA) and Science Kids.
🍎 Support developmental skills and build confidence 🍎
Many of our crafts enable our preschool/early primary-school aged kids to practice their developing skills, like fine motor (e.g., cutting, gluing) and math (e.g., counting, measuring). Practicing these skills will help build kids' self-confidence and prepare them to participate in learning activities more easily and willingly in school. You'll find that so many of the skills involved in making and playing with play food translate to skills that teachers hone in on in early education.
🍎 Save money! 🍎
Check our our collection of fun, DIY play food!