When my son was 3 years old, he got a Home depot tool box from Toys R Us for his birthday. That was one of the best gifts ever. He played with it a lot, by himself or when he was “helping” his dad build things. It was a wonderful imaginary toy as well as a “useful” one with context to real world activities.
Now that he is 5 and he wants real tools.
I think that in general, if there’s no safety issue, real tools are better choices then toy tools. Kids know the difference. I believe they want to do the real thing. (But I’m no child education expert, so… maybe you know better. This is only my opinion).
When it comes to cooking, he got his own little toy kitchen and kitchen tools at about that same age (3 years). He plays with it from time to time. However, I think that he has more fun when we do actual cooking or baking together in the kitchen while using real kitchen equipment.
Corky Pollan from the online Gourmet magazine , November 2008 issue, (Photographs by Romulo Yanes) shows a few examples of really cool kitchen tools you can give to your kid/s who likes to cook. They are real but they are more colorful and fun looking then “adults” tools which are usually a boring black and white. So if you want to encourage your child/ren to play in the kitchen with you, this might be a cool gift to give for the holiday.
Most of the tools can be found at familiar stores like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, and others.
Another idea which costs nothing but some of your time is – give your child a cooking lesson!
Teaching them a life skill is the most precious gift. I think.
It doesn’t have to be complex. Keep it simple, depending on their level of skills and age and time available. A few examples: baking cookies, making a salad, setting the table, making soup, whatever will be fun for you.
Have fun. Play.
Have fun. Play.