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10 Benefits of Cooking & Cooking Role Play

It might require a fair bit of preparation and clearing up afterwards, but there's no denying that most children LOVE to have some creative fun in the kitchen or engage in imaginative play with pretend play foods.  

We've summarised 10 top reasons why this sort of pretend play is so important to a child's development. 

1. Boosting social skills 

Young chefs engaged in imaginative cooking pretend play are likely to engage in discussion about what they are doing in the play kitchen, observe what other playmates decide to 'cook', and share the ingredients or utensils they are using.

Wooden Play Food - Doughnuts 

2. Improving vocabulary and reading skills 

Whether it's reading the recipe or the name of ingredients, cooking play provides ample opportunities to practise basic reading skills. With each new ingredient, they can extend their vocabulary and consolidate this knowledge by using the ingredient for a specific purpose.

Little Chefs

3. Practising numeracy skills 

Weighing out ingredients, counting eggs, and measuring sugar are processes that compound a youngster's understanding of mathematics. Simple addition, subtraction and even division can also be practised once the cookies/pizza/cupcakes are removed from the oven - real or otherwise!

Wooden Scales

4. Learning to tell the time

Cooking with children is a great chance for them to practise telling the time, whether it's at a very basic level of working out when the food went into the oven, to working out how long it needs to cook for and therefore when they should check to see if it's ready! 

5. Learning through sensory play 

Kneading, mixing, tasting, smelling, watching bread rise, these sorts of activities provide new experiences through sensory actions. Exercising each of their senses will allow them to maximise their learning potential. 

6. Sparking creativity 

We may not approve of the ingredients they mix into a salad/add as a pizza topping/stick on top of a cupcake but the process allows them to experiment with ingredients and flavours and simply have some control over the end result. Role play cooking with pretend ingredients is particularly useful for allowing very young chefs to go wild without the mess!

Cooking Role Play

7. Tempting a fussy eater 

An ordinarily fussy eater may well be more tempted to try a new dish or ingredient if they have prepared it themselves or placed it on their own plate. Obviously this is not so desirable if the dish they've prepared is made from salt dough or plasticine! 

8. Making sense of the world 

Discussing where an ingredient has come from, why they need to be cooked in a specific way and why some foods are better for us than others, are just some areas of discussion that help children improve their general understanding of the world around them. It can also help establish the foundations of a healthy eating attitude

9. Satisfaction of completing a process 

Seeing the cooking process through from beginning to end creates immense satisfaction and a confidence-boosting exercise for any youngster. Having read the recipe, literally got their hands dirty mixing the ingredients and endured the wait before seeing (and sampling) the end result, is bound to make any budding young chef pretty proud.

10. Wide age range applicability 

Cooking and role play cooking are fun, educational experiences for a broad age spectrum of children. Preschoolers can master a simple recipe with adult help and steadily progress on to more complicated recipes. It's also a great activity to enjoy as a family. Bigjigs Toys offer a wide selection of cooking role play toys, from kitchen appliances to role play food and baking sets - all available to purchase here.

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