by Caroline

Sometimes, whether due to renovation or repairs, our kitchens become unavailable. Lisa’s family lived through this, my family lived through this, many of you have lived through this. We wound up moving out of our house for the bulk of our renovation, and during that time my husband and then three year-old son built a play kitchen out of scrap wood and various plumbing fixtures:

It’s a compact little space, but it’s got 4 burners and a decent sink:

It’s got good open storage underneath the sink, for appliances and the like:

There’s even a spot to hang an oven glove (a felted mitten knit by my sister) and a few utensils:

We moved the kitchen into our house when our renovation was complete, and both kids still cook in it regularly, now using a combination of tools filched from my kitchen and utensils given to them expressly for their play kitchen:

Of course, its pantry is well stocked, both with toy food:
And “real food” (empty packages that we save and repurpose):

It’s got food made by family (again my sister with the creative knitting!):

And food toys given by friends (shape sorter cupcakes!):
With such a well-stocked pantry and well-equipped space, it was perhaps inevitable that they would start to think bigger, so they opened a cafe:

They advertise their specials and features with a few signs:

And even brag a bit about the menu (the sign says: “this cafe has relly yummy dishes so you might want to come here more often then you do other restrunts…”

You don’t need an elaborate play kitchen to encourage cooking and restaurant play, of course; a couple pots and a wooden spoon in the corner of your own kitchen, some empty food containers, and  a pad of paper and a marker (to take orders) are plenty to get a kid going, and can result in hours of happy (and low parental-involvement) play. What does kitchen play look like in your house?