Love isn’t a strong enough word for how much my daughter adores her Step 2 Fresh Market Kitchen. Some days I think that the entire house could disappear around her and she wouldn’t even notice as long as she had 4 things with her:
- her Step2 Kitchen
- our working refrigerator (for real snacks)
- her Corolle baby doll (to feed)
- me (to provide real food out of the real refrigerator and cheer for her while she plays)
I’m pretty sure that’s the order of preference, too.
We were fairly certain a play kitchen was going to be a huge hit with her this year, but even we had no idea the kind of love that could exist between a toddler and a toy. She spends roughly 2 1/2 hours each day playing with her Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen, and if she could talk in full sentences she would tell you that’s not nearly enough time.
Besides being absolutely adorable, Step 2 makes the coolest play kitchens anywhere. All of their kitchens come with accessories and goodies to spare, which makes their already awesome playsets even more so. With a kitchen collection that features a classic 50’s Diner, a Party Time Kitchen, and even a Gourmet Café, Step 2 has the best lineup in kids kitchens anywhere. Because their kitchens are so varied and cover a wide range of configurations, I absolutely love the Kitchen Selector tool available on the Step 2 site that helps you choose the playset that is perfect for your children as well as the best fit for your space. The Kitchen Selector tool recommended the Fresh Market Kitchen, and my family and I could not agree more that this was the perfect Step 2 kitchen for us.
So what is it about the Fresh Market Kitchen that’s so incredibly cool? Everything! For starters, the kitchen has activities on three of the four sides of the Fresh Market Kitchen, making the play options so much greater than a standard kitchen set up. It has the kitchen cook area on one side, a sitting area on the opposite side that you can pass food through to, and then it has a Fresh Market display front and countertop to purchase all your fresh foods and bakery items on the other side.
The Step 2 Fresh Market Kitchen comes with all sorts of really cool accessories – 47 pieces, to be exact – from pots and pans and kitchen utensils to use on the kitchen side, to a calculating cash register, fruits, veggies and pastry counter goodies for use in the market. Of course, it also comes with a credit card and market bag for your little shopper to purchase all their goodies and take them back to the kitchen with.
As well as being an immense amount of fun for our entire family, the Fresh Market Kitchen does more than just provide hours of play. The play and learning opportunities are twice as great in this kitchen because of its unique Market/Kitchen design that allows kids to play chef as well as shop keeper. The included fresh produce and market goods offer great tools for teaching kids about fruits and veggies and the food groups, while the calculating cash register and beeping scanner help kids learn about counting and money. Then, once they are in the kitchen there are countless opportunities to really expand on the learning themes and help your little one learn to cook just like mom and dad. With really cool touches like a bubbling cooktop that lights up to a real working light above the stove, the Fresh Market Kitchen is full of realism that both parents and kids can appreciate and makes the learning experience that much greater.
Play Kitchens as learning toys isn’t exactly a new concept or cutting edge in any way. In fact, experts such as the best selling children’s cookbook author Barbara Beery have widely endorsed play kitchens as great learning tools for children to help cultivate their imaginations and encourage a love of cooking. Everyone knows that I simply can’t resist a learning toy, and to me a play kitchen is one of the ultimate learning vehicles for young kids.
We look for any and every way we can encourage our daughter even more and involve her in our cooking routines, so we are always brainstorming ways to have our daughter help with either prep or serving of food, and the Fresh Market Kitchen has ample opportunities to do this. We have been known to “cool” foods in her play oven as the last step before eating, display her real lunch amongst the play foods in the display case, which she then buys (with kisses, of course) before taking them to the table and even letting her store certain cooking items in her Step2 kitchen, which she then retrieves for us when we need them to really cook.
As great as it is to play with her in the Fresh Market Kitchen each day and narrate all the things we’re doing and why, I love just sitting back and watching my daughter play in her kitchen alone and watch what happens during her open ended play. I love when I see her do something that I know she learned from watching hubby, or something that is just like mama, and realize how much of our day to day activities she is already processing and emulating as she figures out how to heat, scrub and serve just like we do. I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat or two the day my daughter asked for a washcloth and then proceeded to pretend to wipe down her kitchen counters after she was done cooking. Maybe she is mama’s girl after all.
Parents beware, the coolness of the Step 2 line of kitchens does come at a small price. Give yourself 20-40 minutes of building time and use an electric screwdriver if you can, you will thank me later. Be sure and allot enough time for set up for Christmas morning surprises so your child doesn’t come down to bags of screws and kitchen pieces. Don't worry though, this really is a small price for the quality of the Step2 line and the look of sheer joy that will be on your child's face the moment they catch a glimpse of their new toy kitchen.
The Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen is absolutely on my list of must-have toys for both boys and girls this holiday season as something that encourages learning and independence in a positive and playful way.
Price: $199 MSRP
And now for the Giveaway...
This giveaway is closed. Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to Kirsten!
A HUGE thank you to Step2 for sending us the coolest toy kitchen ever and for offering a giveaway to our fabulous readers. No type of monetary compensation was received for this Rave Review.