Imaginative Play · Learning Activities · Play Advice · Sensory Play

Play Soup – my answer to little kitchen helper drama

 My girls are always in the kitchen helping my husband and I to make food. Pancakes, lemonade, rolls and waffles are some of their specialties.Naturally they and why it is think of themselves as great chefs…but in reality they think combining flour, milk, carrots and sprinkles is a perfect recipe. Their sweet daddy let them make that creation and they were so surprised that it didn’t taste amazing.

The frustrating thing is every time I stepped in to “help” (okay take control) they shot me down or got frustrated that I was taking over. In the end I left them to their sweet daddy who just did what they instructed. It was a learning experience, but not one that any one wanted to eat much of.

Other times I hear myself rationalize that YES they can help me in the kitchen but NO they cannot crack the eggs or measure in the chili powder because I want dinner to be good more than I want to let them help. I am not saying that is wrong but it does make me feel sad that my little dears sweetly ask to help and then I spend the next 10 minutes slowly crushing their spirit with my No’s and Mom Will Do That’s. (slight exaggeration?)

In response to all this spirit crushing, controlling and frustration that happens in the kitchen I decided that I wanted to give my children more opportunities to be in charge and be successful in their desire to create something of their own. A month ago we did A Little Flavored Water Experiment and it was a big hit, so today I decided to set up Princess Tea/Soup/Bath!

With this activity I am encouraging them to create whatever they want and I vow to myself that I won’t control anything more than the set up. So when my 2 year old desperately wants to pour the giant glass of water into a small teacup I let her, this is HER creation. I also wanted this activity to be child led so they can feel like their finished product, their success is all theirs.

Remember this is easily tweaked for your child’s interests.  If you have a little one who is obsessed with Mickey you could make Mickey punch and make sure to add a snack for Pluto. If you have a child really into Power Rangers you could have your child create a special bath that helps the Power Rangers heal after an epic fight with…whoever they fight, sorry mom of girls here.

Supplies (this is what I used but tweak it mama):

  • Water
  • Small cups or bowls for concoction mixing
  • Transferring tool (pipettes, measuring spoons)
  • Flowers
  • Extra additions
    • I used some red dye and a few drops of  a yummy essential oil smell
    • Other ideas, glitter, multiple colors, a little bubble bath liquid, Sea Salt

I honestly wish I had spent a little more time gathering some more supplies, but I kinda forgot that I was going to do this activity until right at the end of nap time so this was the best I came up with.


TIP: Give items new names if you are stretching your supplies to work for something, instead of salt you could ask your child what the white rocks are for, or suggest that they are special stones that help blah blah. Anything to get that imagination rolling. You will be surprised that it just takes a few suggestions and then usually kids will run away with the idea.

Set Up:

  • I used cookie sheets to contain the mess I knew would happen
  • I placed a few small containers, water, flowers and pipettes on their cookie sheet


Activity Time

My oldest got right to work transferring water. We talked about what she was making, what she smelled, what her fairies would do with her concoction. I encouraged her to pull the petals off the flowers, which was extra fun because I got to see her eyes bug out, normally I’m a strict “No touching the flowers” type of mommy. The small motor skills involved in plucking off the petals was awesome!

Once I felt that my daughter’s interest was ebbing a little with the activity I introduced some princess’ for her to entertain at her princess party. That took the play to a whole new level.

The princess enjoyed some tea and flower cupcakes. Then flower tea evolved into a flower bath for some princess friends. Miss 5 even noticed that her princess’ smelled yummy when they emerged so we decided it was perfumeHow t


My 2 year old was ALL ABOUT the pouring. She is obsessed. If I had been a bit smarter I would have added some smaller pouring tools, like spoons and scoops. She sat and poured yummy smelling teas and soups back and forth for over 30 minutes.

Then I introduced some princess friends…and a polar bear of course, and the activity continued for another 20 minutes. It was magical. Their was sipping, and splashing and parties and at one point Jasmin ended up in timeout. But all in all it was a wonderful afternoon activity.

I really feel like this activity met all of my hopes for my children. They were very engaged, in charge, happy and proud of their creations.

After I had such great success I asked my sister, The Mom Of Boys, to do a similar activity with her little ones to show you all how easily it is tweaked, so look for that next week!



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