Home > Imaginative and Small World Play > Pretend Play – Cooking a feast

Pretend Play – Cooking a feast

J is really getting into play more so than actual crafts at the moment – although we still draw and paint regularly they are free flowing painting and drawing without an end product in site. So with play coming to the front line I’ve been getting imaginative with how I provide the equipment to get him started. So this week I set up some cooking for him.

We don’t have a play kitchen (he’s never expressed an interest in one in the past so we haven’t looked into them) and as he currently enjoys the mixing part of cooking I set up some equipment for him to do this

Pretend cooking real ingredients
J's pretend cooking ingredients and utensils

I used some of our junk containers and some kitchen equipment that could be washed after he had finished playing and real ingredients that I made up for him to mix with.

What you need for pretend play cooking

Selection of different sizes containers and bottles to fill
Paper to provide a labels for containers (even though J can’t read I thought if I started with this now when we play this in a couple of years time he will be familiar with having labels on and it will help develop literacy)
Kitchen utensils – my selection included a Lemon Saver (which J designated an egg!), salt cellar, spoons of various sizes, measuring cups, cup cake cases and bowls
A free supermarket recipe book which I covered with my own title
Salt and food colouring
Some Peppercorns
Water and food colouring
Child height table, messy mat and apron (I would love a chef hat for him in the future to do this as well)

How the fun happens with pretend play cooking

While he was having lunch I set up the ingredients – some flour in one container, some salt in another which I coloured with some red food colouring to make it look a little like our brown sugar, some peppercorns and coloured some water in some bottles. I then laid out the ingredients and utensils on his table with a messy mat underneath.

Using books in pretend play
J reading his recipe book to work out what to cook

J has seen me prepare to cook something with him many times and the first thing we do is flick through our recipe book and find something – because the Avocado salad was Green! he decided that this was what he was going to make. He first set about walking around his table going WOW I’m cooking, I’m going to mix and mix and mix!

Pretend play cooking
J getting ready to mix

J had great fun pouring the ingredients into his bowl – he used a variety of spoons and pretended to crack his “egg” in the bowl. I had to refill the water up multiple times as his mix was too dry – it was great seeing the new language that he was using in his play as he played.

Toddler pouring and mesuring ingredients for pretend play
J enjoyed pouring and tipping ingredients a lot

He played for around 40 mins adding more ingredients asking for more water, mixing the ingredients together in his bowl – as I had used coloured water and coloured the salt this meant that instead of his flour and salt mix being white it ended up as a light brown colour.

Toddler measuring ingredients using cups
J liked choosing his different cups and taking the ingredients out of the tubs

When he had finished playing with the cooking I put away the ingredients for play again with his cook book and have added some food containers as we have finished with them to increase the possibilities for future play. It has now been asked for multiple times as he has enjoyed it so much.


  1. It has been a long time since we have done this. You have inspired me to pull out the kitchen goodies and play.

    Thanks for sharing at the Zoo Saturday. You are our featured post this week.

  2. Love Montessori inspired activities! Way to go, mama!

  3. Kim @ Little Stories says:

    Oh, you know I LOVE this! I really like how you actually put stuff in the containers so that he could have colors and textures to work with. I think I was as excited as he was just reading about this. I can’t wait to try this out with my daughter! Thank you.

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