Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Play With Your Food

I had these ‘cut-able’ wooden fruit and vegetables on my radar as my three year old granddaughter had just figured out how awful it felt to get stitches in her hand from using the real thing. She wanted to serve herself those yummy little multi-colored peppers so she got them herself and climbed up to the knife block.  Ah yes.

There is such a real feel to these toys. Velcro between pieces gives that satisfying crunch when you cut them with the harmless wooden knives. Brilliant. So when this mini-grant came along I thought it was a winner for me.  Wow! Did it ever go over.  Kids run into the library to get to these.

True, toys aren’t books, but they are a gateway. I put all sorts of food related books around the play area and forced everyone to look at them, but none were checked out, really. What happened was the children were deliriously happy and the parents were free to pick out all the books they wanted without having to chase around yelling for their kids. No one has tired of this play area, and I have boys and girls up to third grade who routinely prepare me meals at a little table with a table cloth and all.  Of course, that brings up lots of dialog and I can always segue into an interesting book or two for them to check out. Never fails.

To assuage my guilt about taking up that much room for toys I look for stories to read out loud and use the pots and pans as props. Then after the story I encourage them to retell it and use the same props. We have had many hilarious times together.  This was a wonderful addition to our library that stirred up lots of early learning activities.

Julia Metcalf, Director, Head Chef, lover of fun in the library and shiver-er of stitches for three-year-olds.
Oxford Public Library, Oxford, WI

Images provided by the author