While we’re on the topic of quality toys (recommended by Montessori philosophy), take a look at these toy kitchen sets from IKEA…
They are so lovely even I want a set for myself! They are quite dear but they are effectively the real thing made in child-sizes so your child can really use these toys in your kitchen. But if you rather they stay out of the kitchen, there is also a rather life-like stove available:
The kitchen sets are all available at the IKEA store in Ikano Power Center (at least they were the last time I was there) but the glowing stove set is not. I read about the latter on IKEAfans. The light grows brighter and darker as you turn the heat up and down, respectively – how cool is that?
While these toys are beautiful and great for helping children learn life skills, I do feel that there is value in imaginary play where children use substitutes to represent specific objects. Being able to substitute items encourages creativity. For example, Aristotle loves pretending to cook. When he was younger, he would take his coloured sorting buttons and pretend they were food. The red buttons were bits of meat, the green buttons were vegetables, the yellow buttons were potatoes, and the blue buttons were water. He would mix them all up in one of those cylindrical CD containers (which was his stock pot) using the stick that the CDs are threaded onto as his soup ladle.
These days we have gone one up. Aristotle now cooks in the shower using a stool as his “stove”, the water ladles as his stock pots, a toy shovel as his soup ladle, a toy rake as his frying spatula, and miscellaneous empty containers that he has “recycled” as his “spices”. He practices pouring water from one container to another as he goes about his cooking.
While I believe that technological advances in modern life has led to our children becoming more precocious, I have to agree with Philip E. Ross that the lack of these resources in the past has meant that the older generations were more creative. And as much as I am pro-technology, I still think it is important to encourage imaginative play so that we can help our children foster their creative minds.
So even though I would love to buy the entire IKEA kitchen set for the boys, I don’t really feel they are missing out on much without it.