My 3-year-old twins have a bit of a double blow when it comes to their birthday. Not only do they have to deal with having to share their special day with one another, but their birthday also falls at the beginning of December. Their dad and I are left having to deal with that awkward “birthday gift/Christmas gift conundrum. They often end up getting their best toys of the year all at one time. (We really should have timed that better.)
A couple of weeks ago I watched my babies create an oven out of an overturned toy dump truck with pots and pans made from plastic tambourines. ‘How innovative!’ I thought to myself. They must get that from my side of the family.
As I got lost in my thoughts – thinking of how lucky my children were to have received some of my creative genes – it occurred to me that it actually may be time for my two little loves to get a new toy – a kitchen perhaps. Why should they have to wait until the holidays to get their best toys?
It was time to head to Target. I’d recently seen a small wooden kitchen there that I was positive my twin preschoolers would absolutely love. I knew that Target carried quality toys at prices that were friendly to my pocketbook; and their Toy Emporium (available online) had toys specifically created to encourage kids to explore, discover, imagine, create, and build.
Target’s Mighty Kitchen by Hape would be absolutely perfect… but my kids couldn’t have a kitchen without food to “cook”. I decided that I was going to make some felt food to go along with it.
Felt Food Tutorial
What you’ll need:
- assorted colored felts
- sharp scissors
- a sewing machine
- food patterns (optional)
I headed to the craft store and grabbed my bag of assorted colored felts. While there, the cashier asked me what I was making. I proudly told her that I was creating food to go along with my twin’s new toy kitchen.
“Wow. I’ve never heard of doing that before” she responded.
I’m not going to lie. She had me feeling pretty proud as I left the craft store.
The plan was to make eggs, bacon, carrots, chicken, bread, jelly, and broccoli. Those seemed like great foods to start with as they covered almost all of the food groups – with extra veggies added for good measure.
I was inspired by the blog Lemon Wood Clock and her felt food creations. I used patterns that she created; but the point (at least for me anyway) was to make things as simple as possible. If you keep the shapes simple, you can simply cut out your food from the felt directly.
You do need a sewing machine for this, but all of the stitching is on the outside. You could very easily use one of those nifty hand held sewing machines. There are no complicated stitches, or turning things inside out. All of the stitching is on the outside.
First, I did the bread. For each food item, you’ll probably want to cut out two of each piece and sew those pieces together. Felt has the tendency to rip and warp so you’ll probably want to make these food items as tough as you can for the kiddies.
I used a darker piece of felt for the edges of my bread and a lighter piece for the inside.
Be sure to sew through all three pieces at once. (You may or may not find this part to be a little tricky. It all depends on how savvy a seamstress you are. I – for one – am no Betsy Ross.)
Of course you can’t have bread without a little jelly. Cut out two pieces of felt in the “flavor” of your choice. Sew together and leave a small space for a little polyfill. You don’t have to use the fill for this one, but I like a little extra jelly on my sandwiches.
Then I did broccoli. Given that I’m a sewing novice, I found this one to be the hardest to do.
For every broccoli you make, cut two stalks from a light green piece of felt. Sew all of your stalks together completely.
For each stalk you’ve sewn (I had eight pieces creating four stalks) cut two florets from a darker piece of felt. My friend over at Lemon Wood Clock gave the great recommendation of cutting a semi-circle slightly bigger than you want your floret to be and “free-handing” the sewing. Leave an opening at the bottom for polyfill.
Take a little of your polyfill and stuff your floret. Then poke your stalk into the opening and stitch across to close. Trim your broccoli floret however you like; and you’re done.
Then I did my eggs; which for some reason I found to be the easiest and most fun to make.
You can’t have eggs without bacon (or at least my family can’t); so I made the bacon next.
I only used one strip of dark brown for my bacon. I felt the lighter colored “fat” strips reinforced it enough.
After that, I did my chicken (or turkey) drumsticks. These are pretty self-explanatory as far as how to create.
Last, I made my carrots. These are made the same way as the broccoli.
By the time I finished, I had a delicious looking felt feast that my kids couldn’t wait to “cook” on their stove.
For the next week my two little adorable 3-year-olds “cooked” me up some fantastic meals in their #TargetToys kitchen. They served me and their dad daily on trays made from their overturned magnet trays. (There go those good creative genes again.)
Regardless of the poor name choice, the Target toy Mighty Kitchen has proven to be an awesome purchase. It’s encouraging my twin’s self-directed play, and strengthening their language skills. What more could I ask for from a toy?
So, if you want to encourage your kids to explore and discover – while getting a home “cooked” meal to boot – head to Target’s Toy Emporium.
*You can find the toys from the emporium online.
Your imaginary belly will thank you. 😉