Choosing gifts for kiddos can be hard in a sea of options. There are SO many toys, books, games, and activities out there that it can be a little tricky to figure out which items will provide the most learning benefit to the children in your life. If you're looking for meaningful and fun gifts, I've gotcha covered! Today I'm sharing my brand-new gift guide for little chefs and bakers! It's filled with all of my favorite cooking-themed products that will help target language development and much more!
The Importance of Play
So, why are quality toys and play so important anyway? So glad you asked! While at first glance, play can seem like a frivolous activity, it's SO much more! Children learn so much when they play, plus it's a great way to encourage a love of learning through fun activities.
Learning through play is crucial in the early years of growth and development. Providing many opportunities for meaningful play will help children develop social skills and form relationships. Not to mention, play is also linked to stronger cognitive skills and language development! Some other key benefits include:
- indirectly targets abstract thinking and problem-solving skills
- increases understanding of the world and situations
- helps children learn and practice social skills
- strengthens cognitive abilities and skills
- strengthens gross and fine motor skills
- encourages imaginative and creative thinking
- creates meaningful opportunities for communication and learning
- helps to form bonds among peers and adults
- builds relationships in a fun way
Making sure to include play in the day to day life of kids will help the kids in your life thrive! In order to provide your kiddos with the MOST opportunities for learning, I recommend using specific toys, materials, and books. Choosing the right materials can help you easily target a variety of skills and help your kiddos get the most out of playtime!
If you know me, you know my favorite playtime activity for kids is cooking! Cooking presents so many opportunities for learning. Beyond actually cooking though, there are so many fun toys you can use to tie your cooking lessons together and engage in play!
My Favorite Books for Little Chefs
Books are a MUST for kiddos. I love using books to promote new ideas or skills, help deepen understanding and bring lessons full circle. When it comes to cooking and baking-themed books, I have more than a few faves but these are definitely at the top of the list:
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff: This classic book is a must-have for any kiddo that enjoys baking cookies! I love using this book to promote abstract thinking and encourage children to guess what the mouse might want next. This book is a fantastic conversation starter for group settings as well!
- My Food, Your Food, Our Food by Emma Carlson Berne: One of my favorite things about cooking with kids is that I can present opportunities to try new foods. If you have a picky eater, cooking is a great way to encourage variety! This book is a fun story to give children an idea of all the different types of food out there and help children see similarities and differences from their own favorites.
- Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin: This book is just plain FUN! Your kiddos will be reading the book right along with you after a few times hearing this silly story. This is a great book to use if you're planning on having kiddos help make dinner on Taco Night!
My Favorite Food-Themed Games for Kids
Games are such a great way to get kids learning and growing! Whether you use them in speech sessions or at home, you can count on games being a great way to help facilitate some structured play and target a variety of skills. Here are a few of my favorite games from the gift guide:
- Learning Resources Veggie Farm Sorting Set: This is one of my favorite products from Learning Resources and is always a big hit with little ones! This game allows for sorting and matching by color, shape, and number. I love using this game to prompt young learners and practice basic concepts. Plus, the set packs up easily so you can take it on the go without much fuss!
- Educational Insights Pancake Pileup: Preschoolers will love this game while learning balance, coordination, practice patterning, early math skills, and social skills!
- Orchard Toys Shopping List Game: This fun grocery store-themed game is always a favorite and will help children work on matching and memory skills. This game is played just like traditional memory games but uses food items in a race to collect groceries and fill your shopping basket.
- Yeti in my Spaghetti: Children will love playing this super silly game! The object is to remove strands of spaghetti without letting the Yeti fall into the bowl. This is a great game to promote conversation and social skills among peers and adults while targeting motor skills.
Toys for Pretend Cooking Fun
In the gift guide, you'll see I've included a lot of fun toys with a cooking theme. I've organized my favorites by brand and style of toy so no matter what you're looking for, there's something for everyone!
- Learning Resources Fruit Salad Set: In the gift guide, you'll see I have 2 whole pages dedicated to Learning Resources toys. This brand is one of my favorites for young children since the sets are colorful, fun, and promote a variety of skills. As an added bonus all the pieces are super durable as well! This fruit salad kit is a fun addition to any kid's toy collection. Practice naming fruits, sorting by color and type, or counting them.
- Melissa and Doug Wooden Pizza Set: In my gift guide you'll find a page of toys from Melissa and Doug. These wooden toy sets are among my favorites since they offer so much variety for playtime. I love this wooden pizza set to use for dramatic play or before we make real pizza! Ask children to name ingredients, sequence their order, and practice counting with this set.
- Pretend Food Set: Play food is a must for all of the little chefs and bakers out there! Kiddos will love using their imagination to build delicious pretend meals with play food. Toys like these are great for promoting independence in play and allowing kiddos to get creative and take the lead.
- Little Tikes Oven: Finally, no pretend play kitchen would be complete without a toy oven! This one is great because it's compact, perfect for a speech room, classroom, or child's bedroom!
Tools for Real Cooking Activities
Don't forget to take a peek at real cooking tools for the little chefs and bakers in your life. As someone who has done a LOT of cooking with kiddos over the years, I've found a few tried and true cooking tools that make things easier.
- Kid Safe Knives: These are such a great, safe way to help children learn how to cut food. Use these with adult supervision (of course) but allow children to try their hand at slicing foods on their own! Bananas, cheese, and tortillas are great, soft food items to start with.
- DASH Mini Waffle Maker: Making waffles with kiddos is so much fun! Use this mini waffle maker to make individual-size breakfast treats super quickly!
- Popsicle Mold: This fun item is a must for making a variety of frozen treats! Fill these with fresh fruit, yogurt, or fruit juices for a fun and simple snack!
Visual Recipe Cards for Kids
No cooking set would be complete without some great recipes! My visual recipe cards for kids are the BEST gift for all of the little chefs and bakers in your life! Parents, grandparents, teachers, SLPs, and anyone who works with kiddos will love these full-color, kid-friendly recipes.
My visual recipe cards use pictures representing all the tools, ingredients, and actions performed in each step of every recipe. The visual supports on these cards help to target language skills by increasing understanding. These cards are the perfect way to provide structure and support in your cooking lessons without any added stress! Simply follow the steps on the card for fun-filled, meaningful cooking lessons your kiddos will love!
Grab the FREE Gift Guide!
These fun toys, books, and tools are just a few of the amazing gift ideas included in my FREE gift guide! Click the image below to grab your free gift guide.
Each image in the gift guide links directly to the product to make your holiday shopping super simple! Have fun checking out all these great gift options for the little chefs in your life!
Save This Post
Don't forget to save this post on Pinterest so you'll have these ideas at your fingertips!