Toy Talk- Play Kitchens

Happy New Year! For my first post of the year, I wanted to talk about a favorite item I like to use during my therapy sessions whether they are in the home or at the clinic, (usually most clinics have a play kitchen).

My friend recently bought this kitchen for her son, which inspired me to write a post about why I love play kitchens!

toy kitchen

I like to think of myself as a versatile therapist, and in order to be a versatile therapist, you have to see the variety of ways you can use a particular item.

I am not a fan of single-use toys or items.  An example would be a bumbo seat, where you really can only sit a child in it.  Whereas the boppy pillow can be used for sitting, lying down, and tummy time, as well as an obstacle when I’m teaching kiddos how to crawl.

So with that, here are the many reasons why I love working with Play Kitchens!

Physical Therapy Reasons:

  • The obvious first reason is that it encourages standing. I begin to use this kitchen as soon as my patients are standing.  Even if my kiddos aren’t tall enough to stand and place their hands on the counter, I encourage standing against the kitchen, which is harder because they can’t rest their hips against it.
  • Encourages squatting-  I will place many items in the lower cabinets and continuously encourage my patients to cook me items or find items that I placed on the bottom shelf.
  • Encourages kneeling- For my older kiddos who need to work on hip strengthening, I have them kneel at the kitchen and also squat to get items.
  • Encourages reaching up on toes- placing items all the way at the top of the kitchen can help work on calf strengthening and balance.
  • Becomes a great goal to end at when using an obstacle course– I will often place a toy kitchen at the end of whatever obstacle course I’m doing, and then put all the food /kitchen items at one end and encourage my kiddos to do the course repeatedly until they take all the items or they are bored with the activity.

Occupational Therapy Reasons:

  • Works on various grasps- there are so many different items that are used in a kitchen, that you can use it to work on any kind of grasp you need to work on.  From food objects to utensils to knobs and handles, there are lots of fun options to choose from.
  • Works on getting used to textures- the great thing about play food is that there are lots of fun types of play food that simulate the textures of real food.
  • Encourages practicing daily feeding /activities- can practice drinking from a cup, pouring in and out of cups, using a spoon/fork in a bowl, mixing something in a bowl
  • Encourages motor planning and problem solving- for older kids you can practice by asking them to do certain tasks and having them follow through.  You can work on problem solving and elaborate planning but deciding on a pretend meal to make and have a patient go through all the steps to work on focus and attention to a task.
  • Encourages teamwork- you can use a play kitchen with 2 patients at once to work on social/emotional interactions.  I have worked with triplets who all managed to play with their kitchen at the same time 🙂
  • Encourages practicing role playing

Speech Therapy Reasons:

  • Obvious one is practicing saying different items used in a kitchen
  • More interesting than using flashcards since you have the real items to practice saying
  • Provides variety of words and sounds all in 1 activity
  • Works on word recognition
  • Works on memory by picking a number of items for a play meal and having the patient recall them
  • Can also do a treatment with another child to practice social interactions

What are other ways you like using a toy kitchen??


In regards to the 1st comment below, here is a link to the play and cut food that she was talking about!

Play food items on amazon





Categories: Child Development, Toy Talk

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I have a child I see in early intervention who has a play kitchen and I love it for all the reasons you listed. The thing I love the most about his is that when his mom bought it at a tag sale, it came with all of these mini pieces of plastic food. The kicker is most of them are cut in half and have velcro on them so he is able to work on pulling them apart, cutting them with his “knife”, etc. I think they’re great and they have really helped him!


  2. Do you know where your friend bought the kitchen? Would love to buy it for my daughter. Thank you!


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