This post contains affiliate links.We spent a lot of time and web-surfing trying to decide what to get Erik for Christmas. Our budget was small but our dreams were big. We didn't want to just buy some cheap toy that would fall apart in a few months, we wanted something nice that he would love and enjoy for a long time (and that would hopefully last long enough for future brothers or sisters to enjoy as well). After thinking about his likes/dislikes and searching around we decided to get him some food/kitchen based items. But throwing a spatula into his toy box just didn't seem like quite enough, and we didn't have room to get him a play kitchen of his own. We did a little brainstorming and rearranging, and came up with what we think is a great plan.
We moved all the contents of one kitchen cupboard into other locations, so now Erik has his very own kitchen cupboard. We went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of little things to put in there (mixing bowl, sifters, salad tongs, etc), as well as ordering one nicer item from amazon to round it all out. He loves it! He can sit next to me while I'm cooking dinner or washing dishes and play with his utensils. He feels like he's part of the action, and I get a little freedom from having him hanging on me begging for attention. I don't have to worry about him losing or breaking any of my things (or his for that matter) because he has all his cheap ones to do with as he pleases.
condiment bottles. They are awesome! Each has a color coordinating lid that is held on by a magnet. The top of each bottle is a slightly different size than the others, so each lid only fits perfectly on its own bottle. They are solid wood, with the "labels" painted on. I figured it would be a while before he figured out the color connection, but almost as soon as he unwrapped them Christmas morning he started putting the lids on the correct bottle without seeming to even think about it.
When we bought all the other pieces from the dollar store, we tried to get things that were similar to the ones he likes to steal from my utensil drawer, as well as things that would be useful in other learning activities. The scoops and sifter will be great for playing in a sensory bin or the bath tub. The mixing bowl can be used in so many ways. The muffin tin would be great for sorting activities, or for holding paints. The salad tongs are there because the tongs are the first thing he goes for if he ever gets his fingers into my cooking gear.
In my tiny kitchen it's been a bit of a sacrifice to give up a whole cupboard, but I think it's totally worth it. Erik loves every minute he spends playing in it.
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