I’m back with another edition of Toys as Tools! At least once a month, I’m going to stop in and share one of my favorite toys to use for speech-language therapy! Today, I’m going to share the biggest toy of all – a play kitchen! I’ve been wanting to blog about this for over a year and a half now! I’m so excited to finally share it with you!
*This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links*
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking… “that thing is bigger than my entire speech room.” hahaha! I totally understand. I feel your pain, because my first year as a school SLP was spent in a glorified closet without air conditioning or heating! As soon as I landed a full size classroom though? It was game-on! I had to splurge on a kitchen center. I found mine on Amazon, you can find it HERE. I paid around $125 for mine! It looks like it’s $121.99 now. It is a splurge, no doubt about it! Let me be real though, I’ve spent way more on picture books over the years! haha!
The therapy opportunities are endless with a toy kitchen! There are so many things you can work on!
1) Play Skills: Play is a struggle for many of our students. For people outside of our field, play skills appear to be innate in all children, but we know that is not true. Playing with peers requires receptive language, expressive language, problem solving skills, and more! When children have difficulty with language, they almost always have difficulty with playing. Symbolic/dramatic play requires a high level of thinking, it’s truly fascinating! I found that a kitchen center really motivated my students to play alongside and with each other!
2) Directions: This is a wonderful toy for working on following directions! You can say “put the pan in the oven” or “put the ice cream in the freezer and then wash the dishes.” There’s truly an endless combination of directions!
3) Vocabulary: Even if you don’t have a kitchen center, using toy food and toy pots n’ pans are wonderful for building vocabulary (I linked to the ones that I use)! You can categorize and sort! You can ask for a plate of vegetables and a plate of junk food! You can talk about all the different types of food groups, which will provide students with functional vocabulary! I mean, we all love to eat! haha
4) Verbs: This one is an offshoot of #3. Cook, bake, fry, boil, stir, mix, microwave (you can even talk about how it’s a noun and a verb), wash, dry, etc. There are so many actions that we perform in the kitchen! Verbs are vital. You can model tons of verbs using a stovetop! Then when you’re done.. you can “clean” the kitchen!
5) Sequencing: Have students explain the steps for making a hamburger (or sandwich, ice cream cone, hot dog, etc). I love using toy food for this, because making food is part of our daily lives….. well, unless you’re like me and you hate cooking. haha! This is how I sequence making a hamburger: I find my car keys, I get in my car, and I drive to McDonald’s. lol
6) Asking & Answering Questions: Students can practice asking each other questions. What are we making for dinner? Where are the cookies? Who is going to make dessert?
By the way, I use a real cookie jar for my Melissa and Doug cookies! I found these on clearance at Walmart for only $5! I should have bought like 3-4 packs. haha! One day, I hope to have it filled to the top! #slpgoals
7) Object Functions: Describe the functions of spoons, knives, forks, pots, the freezer, oven, microwave, etc!
8) Describing: Building upon object functions, students can work on describing different foods and kitchen objects! You can even play a game similar to HeadBandz… instead it can be what’s in my pot. Students can put food in a pot and then they have to describe it to a classmate! If the classmate guesses correctly then they can “eat” it!
9) Executive Functioning: Students can work together to plan a birthday party for a friend! I’ve done this activity multiple times and students have a blast without realizing they’re working on crucial skills such as initiating, planning, organizing, etc.
10) Articulation: I can’t forget my students with speech goals! Give each child a plate that features food that contains their sounds. For instance, a /k/ kid could have a carrot, a cupcake, milk, bacon, and a cookie! They can say their word 10 times, create a sentence (“I bake cookies), and then they can act out their sentence in the kitchen center. Artic kids LOVE the kitchen center.
A few things about my kitchen… it matched my speech room colors, so I had to get it. haha! I love bold and bright decor! It came from Amazon in a long package and I had to assemble it myself. It definitely is a two person job! My step-dad and I struggled over two or three afternoons trying to get it together. haha. I choose to assemble it at school, because I thought it would be easier.
I know that unicorns are more common than full-sized speech rooms. haha! This isn’t really a realistic option for most school SLPs. There are a variety of alternatives though!
1) I just searched Amazon and they have lots of different toy tabletop kitchens! This one is so cute and so is this one! These look small enough to store easily!
2) Check out Speech Gems’ blog post! She made her own tabletop kitchen using a shoebox! So cute!
3) Truly you can get away with just toy food and kitchen utensils. You can even check your cabinets for old pots, pans, and dishes that you don’t use anymore. Take them to school! How cool would having the real objects be? I know that I have about 20 plates that I’ve never used. haha #whytho
3) If you do have the room, but not the budget.. Check out your local thrift shops and yard sales. I bet you’ll eventually find a toy kitchen! A couple years ago, one of my co-workers had the most adorable kitchen that she found in a yard sale.
4) If you’re crafty, search “diy toy kitchen” on Pinterest. Your heart will absolutely melt. People make them out of nightstands and old TV stands. I just found this blog post that has a round-up of 20 diy play kitchens! They’re adorable! Also, I remember the School SLP made a precious kitchen for her daughter a couple years ago. You can see it at the end of her blog post.
5) If you have a preschool program, maybe you can stop into their classroom from time to time to use their kitchen! I know there are quite a few programs that don’t have school on Friday. If your school is set up like that, maybe you can schedule in some “kitchen time” on their off days!
Do you ever use toy food or a toy kitchen in therapy? What skills do you work on? Leave a comment and share your ideas!
Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!
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