Do you have a budding chef amongst your children? Still a little wary of letting him or her have command of the kitchen? You can help your youngsters have imaginary cooking adventures in the safety of your backyard! All it takes is some natural "ingredients" that can be found in the average backyard or park, as well as a few "utensils" and other supplies for mixing and preparing the final "meals." You'll be treated to a fanciful feast in no time!
There are a few basic supplies that you can provide your children with for their culinary backyard games. Find some sort of large tub or bucket into which they can mix giant vats of soup (starting with some rainwater or water from your hose), and give them a suitable stirring utensil, either a big stick or some sort of spoon-like object (maybe a plastic shovel). If you can find a safe piece of wood with a moderately blade-like edge, let them use it as a makeshift knife to do the chopping and dicing.
Then, encourage your children to start gathering up the ingredients for their imaginary dishes. Fallen fruit makes an excellent, albeit messy, starting point for whatever your youngsters make. If you don't have any fruit trees in your backyard (this blogger had two apple trees when she was young), see if a neighbor with a fruit tree would allow your children to gather up the fallen fruit once it's clear it's inedible.
As "seasoning" and garnish ingredients, seeds from plants native to your backyard or your local park are perfect. Make sure that whatever your children are harvesting is not poisonous or will not cause a rash, and then they are free to pick the seeds free and sprinkle them over the top of their soups or salads! Speaking of salads, you can have your children do some of your weeding for you -- have them pluck dandelions and use them as makeshift lettuce. It's a win-win situation: you get the weeds out of your yard and your children can pretend to make authentic-looking salad!
There is, of course, the classic pretend outdoor dish: mud pies. You have to be prepared to do some serious clean-up work afterwards, since your youngsters will likely get the mud all over themselves, but it's a fun and free activity that's just a part of childhood! You will need some good dirt and water in a pail; encourage your children to knead the two ingredients together into a solid consistency, which they can then mold into pie shapes.
Ready to graduate your children to the real kitchen? Get them some inexpensive (and therefore replaceable) kitchen equipment at local garage sales! You can use our free listings to find some in your area today.