It was a joint gift to my 4-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl when they had birthdays over the summer. I deliberated and saved up quite a while before purchasing it. The grandparents contributed. I think I finally was galvanized to buy it when I read about and saw the picture of Soule Mama's wooden play kitchen in her book The Creative Family. It is the centerpiece of our play room. A constant favorite for our kids as well as their friends.
I shopped around a while before finally purchasing our wooden play kitchen from Heirloom Wooden Toys. There are a few cheaper wood play kitchens out there, but I wanted one made of all or almost all solid hardwood (not plywood or particle board). Also, many mass-market wood play kitchens had pretty mediocre user reviews (flimsy, poorly made, pieces don't fit well together, etc.). Our play kitchen is Christina's Wooden Play Kitchen by Elves & Angels. If you want a wooden play kitchen with a hutch (shelf above), there are several other wooden play kitchens by Elves & Angels or Willow Toys with one or two shelves above the sink/ stovetop. So many great options!
For us, it was a big-ticket item, but since I purchased it, I've seen several plastic kitchens that cost even more, and don't have any of the quality, aesthetic appeal, and open-ended charm of our wooden play kitchen. It's true you can often find plastic play kitchens at garage sales or on Craig's List for next to nothing, but I personally think most plastic play kitchens look kind of grimy after 6 months, and I also really didn't want to bring an additional 10 pounds of plastic, used or new, into our play room.
Heirloom Wooden Toys also has a lot of great play food and play kitchen accessories. I reviewed one set by Plan Toys in this post. I favor the wooden and fabric variety, particularly because my children tend to put play food right in their mouths, despite my many admonitions not to ("Just pretend to eat it!").
To keep our play kitchen always exciting, I rotate our play food and play dishes every couple of months (when I rotate most of my kids' toys). You can read all about our favorite play food and play kitchen accessories and where we have purchased them in this post.
What is your child's favorite toy for pretend play?
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