How to create the ultimate Kid’s play kitchen

Pretend play is not only fun for little ones, it offers a host of developmental benefits. Set your child’s imagination free with Hape’s range of wooden kitchen toys.


Observe your young child playing make-believe and you’ll be amazed at the richness of their imagination. From pillaging pirates sailing the high seas to rogue princesses building icy towers, their developing minds take them on fantastical adventures to the far reaches of the universe.

But pretend play isn’t all about extraordinary stories and mythical creatures. Children also love to act out everyday scenarios such as Daddy cooking breakfast or Mommy going to work. As you watch them toddle away with your briefcase or oven mitt in hand, you feel your heart melt into a puddle.

Make-believe is more than just fun

Beyond its cuteness factor, imaginative play has a range of cognitive and emotional benefits for children aged two and a half through six. Many experts even believe it to be a critical component of normal child development.

Two major study reviews found that it lays the groundwork for emotional self-regulation and can help children learn to reduce aggression, delay gratification and be empathetic. It also allows them to express both positive and negative feelings.

Make-believe teaches children the “theory of mind” – understanding that other people’s thoughts might be different from theirs and that a variety of perspectives exist. It has also been shown to improve social skills such as communication and problem-solving.

An important body of research has demonstrated that early imaginative play can enhance creativity. Creative individuals such as Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant awardees were found to have engaged in more pretend play as children.

Given all these benefits, it makes sense to encourage pretend play by providing children with toys that will set their imaginations free. And what better place to start than at the epicenter of all the activity in your home – the kitchen!

Turn up the heat with Hape

German wooden toy company Hape has cornered the market on kitchen toys. Their durable, non-toxic and super-fun products will help you create the best kids’ kitchen out there. Plus, they’ll look great in your home!

  1. Gourmet Kitchen: Made from sustainably sourced wood and non-toxic finishes, this exquisite play kitchen features an oven, stovetop, sink, knobs to turn the burners on and off, and a shelf to hold cooking utensils and ingredients. It’s everything a mini master chef could ever want!
  2. Gourmet Fridge: This beautiful fridge is the perfect accompaniment to the Gourmet Kitchen. Children will love opening the separate doors to the fridge and freezer sections to choose the foods they want to cook. A built-in ice dispenser even releases wooden ice cubes for realistic role play.
  3. Gourmet Kitchen Starter Set: The sustainably sourced wood kitchen set comes with a lidded pot, a pan, two plates, two fork and knife sets, a spatula, a mixing spoon, and salt and pepper shakers. Your little one will be cooking up a storm in no time.
  4. Heathy Basics: Now that you have all the tools, you need some healthy ingredients to stock your fridge and freezer. This play food set includes one milk carton, three eggs, two yogurt tubs, one wheel of cheese, two juice bottles and one juice box.
  5. Mighty Mixer: Hape’s play kitchen mixer will allow your aspiring baker to make the most delicious cookies and cakes in town. The four-piece set includes a mixer, a removable bowl, brown sugar and flour. The beater really spins!
  6. Pop-up Toaster: No kitchen is complete without a toaster. Kids will delight in pressing and turning the knobs that click, watching their toast pop up, and then using the knife and plate to butter their toast and add a drizzle of honey. Yum!
  7. Garden Salad: This 36-piece wood and felt salad set will not only develop your child’s fine motor skills and imagination, it will encourage healthy food choices with its colorful vegetables.
  8. Sushi Set: With this sushi selection, young chefs can prepare, serve, and enjoy a sophisticated sushi dinner with all of the staples: sushi, wasabi, soy sauce, chopsticks, and a serving tray.
  9. Pita Pocket: Watch your little one’s mouth water as they stuff the felt pita pockets full of delicious fillings including pepperoni, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and other yummy veggies.
  10. Hearty Home-Cooked Meal: Dig into a steak, salad and home fries served on a divided plate with a fork and a knife. More please!
  11. Double-flavored birthday cake: Happy birthday! This scrumptious strawberry and chocolate cake with fruit toppings, candles and accessories will keep your child entertained for hours.
  12. Dessert Tower: Petit fours, anyone? Hape’s Dessert Tower includes 3 tiers of delicious desserts! Your little one can be put in charge of sharing their favorite treats for friends or the whole family without the potential for a sticky, melting mess.


By Sabrina Rogers Anderson