Pros: Appropriate for 18 months and up, fun sounds, great accessories
When my daughter turned two, I was looking for a play set that would allow her to become more engaged and to challenge her skills. Toys for a two year old can be hard to find as they do not always provide a high stimulation factor or they have too many small pieces. After doing research and looking at different play sets that were available, we decided to get her the Grow With Me Kitchen by Fisher Price. The set typically costs approximately $60 although this may vary from vendor to vendor. When we purchased the kitchen set, we were about to locate it for $40. I still remember as a child playing with my kitchen set and I could not wait for her to experience this as well. This kitchen set is intended for children 18 months and up.
The Grow With Me Kitchen is smaller to many of the other sets that are available however they are plenty of items and room to have a quality play session. The kitchen is about 32 x 13 and has an option of two height levels. When the kitchen set is in the toddler mode, it stands approximately 1 foot high and has a shelf that is about 9 x 5 that is approximately 6 inches above the structure. When the kitchen set pulled up to its full height, the main structure now stands approximately 2 feet high. This is a very nice feature that allows for a toddler and preschooler to enjoy the kitchen, hence the name “Grow With Me Kitchen.”
When assembling the Grow With Me Kitchen there is a feeling that something is missing because it is way to easy to do! All that is needed is a Phillips screwdriver to attach the counter and shelf. My husband had the entire piece put together in only a matter of minutes. Three C batteries are needed in order for the kitchen to play the different sounds although it is not necessary to have them. The kitchen is much more fun with the sound effects however.
When the Grow With Me Kitchen is in the toddler mode, only two of the play areas are available in the main structure. They play areas that are featured are a microwave and an oven. There are stickers on both of the doors to indicate which is which. The microwave features a picture of the inside with a bowl of popcorn and a purple door. The oven door is blue and features a picture of a rack with a pie sitting on top of it. Both of the doors open allowing for items to be placed inside of them and both sides feature a grill like bottom. Small items may fall between the plastic bars but these items can easily be rescued by raising the set into the preschooler mode and removed. There are yellow handles on the oven door that click when they are turned. The main structure is colored in white with purple baseboards. The entire structure is made of a firm plastic material. The is a purple counter which sits atop of the main structure and includes a removable sink, stove top, and a small table area. The sink is colored in white and has movable faucet handle parts. The sink is held in place with small strips of plastic that run inside of the main structure. The stove feature a molded shape similar to a gas stove and have two silvers handles for the burners. When the burners are turned, the kitchen will make silly sounds and music or cooking sounds depending on the mode the set is placed in. The toddler mode features more musical sounds rather than realistic sounds as can be found with the preschooler mode. There is a small table area that has been given round edges and sticks out approximately 7 inches. The table is provided with a texture to prevent items from falling off too easily. Above the sink, there is a purple shelf which has been given cutouts to place plates in as well as a few hooks to hand utensils from. In addition there is a space available to set a play phone.
On the top of the counter, a removable blender is also featured. The blender has a yellow base and lid. The lid cannot be removed. Inside, the blender has been filled with a mint green piece with cut outs for cute pictures of fruits and vegetables. There are colorful small balls held within the blender as well that will only be freed if the blender is broken. The blender is the most vulnerable piece of the kitchen set although it is very strong. The blender will spin and play either silly music or blending sounds depending on the mode that the kitchen has been set to. A button has been placed near the blender holder which activates the sounds and movement. The blender can easily be removed and placed back into its holding space. The battery compartment is located next to the blender.
When the kitchen is placed into preschooler mode, the base is pulled up and two additional play areas are available. The play areas that have been added are a refrigerator and dishwasher. Both of these areas have doors that can be opened and closed. Placing the kitchen into the different modes is extremely easy. When moving from toddler to preschooler, the counter needs to be pulled up until both of the additional play areas are visible. The kitchen snaps into place when it has been properly raised. When moving from preschooler to toddler, there are two buttons along the side that can be pushed allowing for the set to be pushed down into on level of play sections.
The Grow With Me Kitchen would not be complete unless there were some accessories to go with. Fisher Price was happy to include these items with the set. The accessories that are included are:
A blue cordless phone that has been molded into the shape. There are no buttons to be pressed nor does it play any phone sounds.
1 pink plastic textured cup
1 yellow semi-deep dish plate that fits into the holder on the shelf
1 mint green spatula that hooks onto the shelf
1 mint green serving spoon
1 blue pot with a yellow shape sorting lid
1 carton of milk, piece of cheese, and an ice cream sundae that fit into the shape sorting lid
3 stackable measuring cups
1 mint colored dinner fork
1 mint colored spoon
The Grow With Me Kitchen is a great item for a toddler and preschooler that allows for the overall development of the child and provides a stimulating experience. My daughter loves to play with her kitchen and tries to imitate the movements that I make in the kitchen. We purchased a small food and pot set that she has integrated into the kitchen set. There is plenty of storage for corresponding pieces which prevents kitchen pieces from ending up all over the house. My daughter will use the included spoons (as well as those that we included in her food set) to mix up the most wonderful of imiginary dishes while talking on the play phone. I find this set especially helpful when I am making dinner myself and I can have my daughter "join in" and prepare her food. This keeps her out of the middle of the kitchen (as they will always plop down in middle) and away from the hot stove. She seems to enjoy the sense of accomplishment in helping me cook a meal.
The kitchen is extremely light and weighs only a few pounds making it easier to transport into another room. I truly appreciate that this toy is appropriate for children as young as 18 months as they also need toys that push and challenge mental and physical skills as well as contribute to the development of imagination. Most kitchen sets are typically intended for children three years of age and older and will likely grown out of it sooner rather than later. The Grow With Me Kitchen is a toy that is cost effective as it provides a much longer age range. My daughter will not only play with this toy for long periods of time but it allows for us to play with her and be involved in some special cooking time. As the entire set is plastic, it can be cleaned using a damp towel.
The Grow With Me Kitchen is also available in a pink version however we chose to go with the standard coloring.