Stocking Kids’ Pretend-Play Kitchen Made Easy Peasy: Here’s Your List

You'll already have many of these tools on hand.

Parker Barry

With all the time kids see adults in the kitchen, it makes sense that cooking and food would enter into their pretend play. Browse the toy catalogs and you’ll see some amazing play kitchens to fit any decor, but kids don’t need a designer, coordinated retro kitchen to whip up pure fun. Have a few supplies on hand, and kids can discover the joy of cooking (or at least pretending to!). Some of these tools can do double-duty in real-life kitchen play.

Recycle/reuse: Rinse out and save these for kids to use playing grocery store, restaurant or house. The smaller boxes and cartons are easier for small hands to maneuver but look similar enough to the “real” versions for realistic pretend play. Medium and large cardboard boxes can become checkout registers, stovetops, ovens, store shelves, table tops and more.

  • shakers (from spices or Parm cheese)
  • small boxes, containers or jars
  • whipping cream carton
  • medium and large cardboard boxes

Tiny tools: With kid-size tools, kids can prepare food for your family, for their dolls or for imaginary visitors. They can have a designated low cabinet in the kitchen to store their things, or, depending on your comfort level, they can use the real things.

  • rolling pin
  • vegetable peeler
  • flatware
  • serving utensils
  • plates and bowls
  • small size mixing bowls

Clean it up: Let’s not forget the time spent cleaning up the kitchen. That may enter kids’ playtime, too. With the right tools, it can be fun and productive! Kids can clean up crumbs, spray and wipe counters or wash their play dishes in a sink of soapy water.

  • Dust pan with small broom
  • Spray bottle filled with water or a vinegar diluted with water and a cloth
  • Sink filled with bubbles and water


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