Sunday, September 9, 2012

Make Toddler Play Food for Under $4

Things you will need:
  1. Dollar store natural colored sponge pack of 4
  2. Eight Felt sheets- pink, green, light green, yellow, light yellow, white, off white, dark red
  3. Scissor
  4. Brown, red, white and yellow acrylic paints
  5. Black and green sharpies

I have always wanted to make my own play food for the kids. They love pretend play and I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally make this for them. I wanted to mix my textures by using felt, sponges and tissue paper. It may be tough to find but I found these sponges at the local dollar store hidden under all the other fancy colored sponges. I wanted that natural 'bread' looking sponge color. Here's how...
This pack had 4 sponges that were 4.75x3 inches in size. Perfect size for little hands to play with. Take two of them and cut into squares as shown.
Cut off the four edges as shown then continue to snip until you get a round 'bun' shape. On the right, snip off the top of your 'bun' edges to form a dome shape.
Dome shape taking both sides of your 'hamburger buns'.
Cut out a third piece of sponge, slightly smaller or bigger than your 'buns'. Paint it a darkish brown to resemble a beef hamburger patty.
After the beef patty dries, use a black sharpie to create grill marks. Oh yeah, make a chicken patty too! I made the chicken patty oblong and narrower than the beef patty...more realistic right? Snip off the edges of the beef patty to make it more dome shaped and rounded. Doing this after it dries with the brown paint, as you can see, shows a lighter brown on the edges...
Below, I measured the size of my 'bun' then cut out a piece of yellow felt the same width. That would be my cheddar cheese...Use this cheese size as a template for the rest of your burger ingredients.
For the lettuce leaves, cut squares the size of your template. Cut out any form and shape of lettuce you want. Somehow my lettuce ended up looking like oak tree leaves but I would like to think they look more like arugula salad leaves :) Use a green sharpie to draw in the details of your lettuce...
For the onions, cut out a circle the same size of your template. Cut out rings of all sizes... 
I made tomato slices from sponges instead of felt because I wanted them to be thicker than the felt was. Paint them red and yellow if you wish...
Another way to make lettuce is with tissue paper instead of felt. Use the brightest green you can find. Cut into wide strips. Crumble to create texture. Open up and rip apart. Do not cut with a scissor because you want that shredded, ripped look. 
After you shred the pieces, glue together if you want. For me, it was easier and neater to have the kids play with it this way...
It looks like crispy iceberg lettuce...It's just another option to using felt. This is a great way to re-use all those old tissue gift paper.
Now. Lets play with our food!! Lets make a burger- How would you like that??? Beef of chicken?
Swiss or cheddar cheese?
How about another burger using 'arugula' lettuce this time?
No matter what the choices are, this is fun. Fun for the kiddies and fun to watch them play with their food.
Make eggs for breakfast sandwiches...Cut out a white square from your template and a small square for your yolk.
There is no right or wrong way to cut out an egg. As long as your child is able to recognize what it is supposed to be. Cut out ham (pink felt) bacon (dark red felt with white paint stripes) Make fries (from left over sponge pieces).
Bacon cheddar cheese burger? Yum.
Order a burger from your child and watch him make it. I was surprised to see how much they enjoyed playing with this. My older son is very picky and hardly eats meat. Interestingly he made a sandwich with all the lettuce, onions, cheeses and left out the beef and chicken patties. At least he knows what he likes right? Even in felt/sponge play food!
Felt comes in so many amazing colors. I just love them...Let your imagination run wild and create all things fun and educational for children. Pretend play is very important and is great for developing those much needed fine motor skills. It's also a great way to introduce different kinds of foods and vegetables to kids. Please share my work with other moms, teachers etc. This is so inexpensive to make and it's a lot of fun to make. Involve them in the process of what to make. Thanks for spending some time with me.

4 pack sponges  4.75x3 inches ($1) 
8 colors of felt sheets 9x12 inches (.29¢ cent each)


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