This set of pretend food reminded me of how much I love beautifully made, well-built, multi-purpose toys. Investing in these sorts of materials for your program makes so much more sense than buying toys that don’t last and are designed for one sole purpose.
There are many varieties of this sort of toy set. If and when I ever have an opportunity to set up a preschool program again, I would buy these sets and outfit my housekeeping area with these pretend foods, rather than plastic ones (some of the foods in those sets are unidentifiable).
The opportunities for pretend play with these sets are pretty apparent. In fact, the play will look a lot like the housekeeping play you are already used to. But when I look at these sets, I see tons of potential for math talk and math vocabulary. The design of these foods allows for conversations about “some,” “half,” “most,” and “all.” At first, this math vocabulary will probably need to be facilitated by the grown-ups in the program. The teacher will ask for “some watermelon” or a “half of an apple.” You might ask for a sandwich with “most of the cheese” but only “some meat.” Over time, this “math talk” will become a part of the child’s vocabulary and they will use the words correctly.
Remember that child care in its finest form should mimic the home as much as possible. Ideally, the conversations above are the kind that parents have with children during play and mealtimes when they are at home. We need to provide these experiences in meaningful ways for children while in care outside of the home. Try using math vocabulary a few times a day and see what happens. Let us know!
Next week I am going to show you some of the wonderful multicultural food manipulatives I have found. Wait til you see them.