The Surprising Ways 6 Kitchen Tools Create Hours of Fun for My Kids

published Apr 11, 2023
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Kids using pasta maker to flatten play dough.
Credit: Jenny Davis

It seems like the more hazardous something is, the more interested in it your kid will be. Like when you’re in the kitchen and they demand to stir the hot pot, or pour the boiling water into the pack of oatmeal, or cut their own strawberries with the sharpest knife you have.  

I hope to make you and your kitchen better friends when it comes to your kids! Over the years, through trial and error and scouring the internet for parenting hacks, I’ve discovered safe kitchen tools that your kids will love.  Here are some of my favorites, with activities you can do with them.

1. Make chalk paint with a mortar and pestle!

This tool that dates back to ancient times is great for mashing up chalk for paint. Pounding away at the chalk and hearing it crunch as it becomes a powder is pretty satisfying. And I must admit, even I want a turn — especially on those days when I have to let off a bit of steam. Add a little cornstarch and water and you have chalk paint! This one might just be an example of when the process is better than the result.

Credit: Jenny Davis
Credit: Jenny Davis

2. Shape polymer clay with a pasta maker!

Toddlers (with supervision) and kids will love shaping polymer clay in a pasta maker. Place the crank in the roller to flatten, then move it to the noodle size of your choosing to cut it up into pasta strips. My kids have used this to serve five-course meals in their imaginary restaurant, and to flatten clay to spell with alphabet cookie cutters. But most of the time, they just like to crank the polymer clay over and over again. It’s hypnotic; try and you’ll see.

Credit: Jenny Davis

3. Use a progressive egg beater for water experiments!

Better than your standard egg beater, this one has a top handle that you hold while you hand-power two egg beaters. It’s a fun way for your little kitchen helper to actually mix the pancake batter. Or you can add it to messy play and let them use it to move ooblek at different speeds, mash up water beads, or create vortices in water. I recently did a color experiment with my kids where they used the egg beater to mix food coloring in water to see what the different combinations made. 

4. Squirt off foam soap with a ketchup squeeze bottle!

Fill this with water and food coloring and you’ve got a new way to paint. We’ve used it to paint snow in the winter, and shaving cream at home. Or use one during bath time to have your kids squirt off foam soap from the tiles, or to add vinegar to baking soda to see the chemical reaction. What kid doesn’t like to play with water power? It’s like the home-use version of a super soaker. 

Credit: Jenny Davis

5. Scoop so many things with condiment sauce cups!

These aluminum steel cups are easy to stack and perfect for little hands. We keep ours in the play kitchen and they get pulled into all kinds of activities. From scooping up water, filling with sand, using as pretend cups, or just clanking around, these metal cups are a great way to bring something other than plastic and wood into play for a more engaging and stimulating experience.  

6. Dry off bath pom poms or animal toys with a salad spinner!

Watching this thing wildly spin a contained basket reminds me of a carnival ride called the Gravitron where the people are the salad. Okay, back to toddlers and kids. They’ll love hand-powering that fast swirl, and it’s a great way to help them develop their fine motor skills. We use ours to get some of the moisture out of pom poms played with during bath time, or to dry off animal toys that just had a foam bath. It doesn’t always dry the items well, but that’s not the point anyway. 

Once off-limits in my parenting arsenal, the kitchen is now one of the first places I go to when looking for new things to entertain my kids.