Monday, November 18, 2013

Most Used Kitchen Gadgets for Preschool Engineering

In his FoodTV show "Good Eats" Alton Brown taught adults all about cooking from a very STEMy perspective. The science that underlies how heat plus food equals cooking was included in every episode. He talked about anatomy of cows. And, most interestingly for a preschool engineer, he discussed the technology of the kitchen. Alton Brown is who I think about when I see my kid experimenting with kitchen tools. This list is comprised of the kitchen gadgets that my child uses in his play.

8. Can Opener. It has a crank and gears and sharp blades that turn. I like to let my kids use a can opener to cut orange rinds, banana peels, and anything else that seems to fit in there. Good for fine motor work, experimenting with what tools are best for which jobs as well as some lessons on materials.  (Mind you, I have my own can opener that I can always find because the children's can opener often goes "missing.")

7. Egg Beater. I'm not talking about an electric egg beater. I'm talking about a handheld, "old school" egg beater. One with a crank and some gears. Santa put one in Mikey's stocking last year and it is used in the mini pool in the yard, in sand, and in the bath tub. Mixing materials and colors with this tool is great pre-STEM work.

6. Funnels. Keep your eyes peeled at a second hand store. Funnels always seem to turn up. Otherwise you can toss this set of three into your Amazon cart for ~$4 to eek up to the $25 price point to earn free Super Saver Shipping. Our funnels are used and abused in sand, water and the mud in between. One is a "house" for a pet "worm." If you want to stray from the kitchen section and get a bonafide toy funnel then check out the one at Fat Brain Toys, pictured below, or the funnels that are integrated with water wheels, also pictured below.


5. Salad Spinner. Salad spinners will tickle a preschool engineer because they harness the power of centripetal force. Our has been used to dry rocks, socks, make painting, and as a fish bowl to make the stuffed fish "swim." Personally, I was glad to hand over my cumbersome and hard to store gadget to my preschooler. When you shop consider what your child might with a crank or a button? The possibilities seem endless.


4. Baster. A baster is so cool for a mechanically-minded preschooler. It is a pipe AND he or she can use it to create a vacuum to suck things up. These are simple water tools to hand over to your child. right along the lines of a baster, you can consider a transfer dropper. I include a link, below, for a pack of six glass ones but for the same price you can get 100 plastic ones! I'm trying to reduce clutter so I'd opt for six but with 100 you could consider them pretty disposable.
Transfer Droppers

3. Measuring Cups. Want to upgrade yourself from your old trusty but plastic and dinged up measuring cups? Give them to your kid and get yourself some nice new stainless ones from Williams-sonoma. (Laughing out loud.) Measuring cups are yet another open-ended toy. They can be used for scooping and dumping any number of things - water, sand, rocks, beads, broken crayons, you name it! They can also double as bathtubs in pretend houses or miniature planters for landscaping.

2. Tongs. Anything that makes the tongs different from the next set and valuable to a chef will appeal to your child, too. CHeck out my list on Amazon or go to this list at Montesorri Services. The possibilities for grabbing are endless. Plus, a new set of tongs will make your kid feel like a brand new robot. ;)

1. Whirley Pop. The whirley pop is the thing that my husband and I most dislike but it is my son's favorite kitchen gadget. It has a crank, an observable bevel gear, plus a spinning thing inside. Ours has mixed everything imaginable and, most recently, was a "rock polisher" like the one Mikey saw on Dinosaur Train "Treasure Hunt." So, hey, you can buy one and make some popcorn and know that when the novelty of a popcorn popper wears off the preschool play can begin.

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