I’ve added the most beautiful wooden kitchen area to The Patch and the tykes have enjoyed it for about two months now. It’s been quite an education for me as I observe them stir this and shake that and test how far glass can fly before it gets broken…..which by the way, is farther than one might think…
I stocked the hutch with glass spice jars that had inner seals so the spices couldn’t spill out even though their exterior lids can be opened and shut. I put black and white pony beads in the salt and pepper shakers and yellow pony beads in the honey bear bottle. I set out glass punch cups and serving spoons and wooden salad bowls. I splurged and bought a metal (a thin metal) pot and pan set and put it in the hutch. Did I mention it was thin…..like paper thin…..?
After everything was perfect and ready for the tykes, I stepped back and just observed them enjoy their new area. It was theirs, after all. I wanted it to feel like home but without the restrictions of not being able to bang or touch or toss. Boy did they toss….and bang…..and stack everything… I had the most amazing experience with just observing and taking in their play. Here’s what I learned, in no uncertain order…..:
1] They wanted to make towers out of everything. Spice jar towers, wooden bowl towers and then wooden bowls with spice jars inside of them to make even taller towers…..Preschoolers are quite the engineers….
2] They wanted to bang everything. EVERYTHING…..every object made a different sound. The spoons on the wooden bowls sounded different from the spoons on the punch cups. The spice jars being banged together sounded different from the salt and pepper shakers being banged together…..Pepper, bless its little heart, went to spice heaven on the fourth day of the first week….
3] Everything had to fit inside of everything. How many blocks can fit in this pan, and how many animals can fit in the cup and the list of possibilities continued to grow every day. They were positive that the honey bear would be able to sleep in the muffin pan laying down, but alas, he just couldn’t bend his little plastic legs enough to quite fit. Because of his inability to be flexible, he took several airborne trips to the other side of the room….poor bouncy guy….
4] I have no plastic or pretend food in the kitchen area. They are mostly still very oral and the thought of dripping plastic food just made me queasy…But they haven’t missed it or asked for any…..They have been too busy exploring all the loose parts to actually begin the cooking process. The older ones have made tea and coffee, but the younger ones have been content to pretend to just drink from, lick on, and chew on the pieces for right now. I get a good chuckle over how valuable a serving spoon is to a toddler…..They will carry them around the room ALL day…..
5] Toddlers have a love of doors. They love to open and shut them and open and shut them and open and shut them….LOUDLY….It is where they are in their development. Because they are also very strong, I am spending lots of time on my knees in front of the hutch saying “be gentle” in a very hushed tone and showing them how to open and shut the doors GENTLY. They look at me with such love and joy and then our wonderful teachable moment completely evaporates as they become Hulk when I walk away….
These pieces were designed by preschool professionals all the way in Germany….I am trusting that somewhere there are little German tykes with Hulk strength who have been testing these pieces for durability….And I am also sure that in that testing facility in Germany a tired and frazzled preschool professional is on her knees and patiently and lovingly saying “sanft” (gentle) over and over and over….