I took a quick trip to IKEA this week. We picked up a few inexpensive things, like napkins and a replacement light fixture for my son’s room (a $10 lamp seemed like a good idea since he broke the last one in less than 6 months). As we wandered through the children’s toy department, something caught my eye.
First I noticed the basket of toy vegetables. What a great idea! Play food is always fun (I am a big believer in imaginative play) but this goes one step further and encourages play with healthy food!
If you grow a garden outside, the kids could pretend to have their own garden, too. It says right in the IKEA catalogue that this toy “Encourages role play; children develop social skills by imitating grown-ups and inventing their own roles”. I can just see little girls and boys planting and harvesting their own imaginary lettuce and tomatoes. Awesome.
Then I saw a basket of toy fruit. Even better! That beats the plastic donuts and pizza my kids played with in their pretend kitchen. The watermelon could be fun because you could pretend to spit out the seeds. The banana could be food for an imaginary monkey. There’s even an apple for the teacher which would come in handy when the kids play ‘school’.
But then, just before we got onto the elevator, my eye fell on something fantastic: a stuffed broccoli. I don’t even like stuffed animals and I LOVE this: a soft, smiling vegetable with arms, legs and an apron (perhaps he likes to cook). There is also a friendly upside-down looking carrot. That one doubles as a squeaky toy and is baby-safe for the under-three crowd. These might be the coolest toys ever!
Just think–your child could grow up cuddling with a broccoli or making friends with a carrot! That certainly de-mystifies fresh, healthy foods. How could they turn down fresh vegetables at the dinner table when they have spent all afternoon playing with them?
Uh oh. Wait a minute. That might not work. It’s one thing to play games pretending you are a farmer. It’s quite another pretending that your crops have feelings and personalities. Are the kids really going to want to eat their friends for dinner? Hmmmm. There might be a flaw in this plan.