August 22, 2011

Cheap, Easy Pretend Play: Vegetable Soup

Since I'm generally pressed for time and am often doing things one-handed with an infant on my shoulder or in the sling, I'm forced to improvise non-traditional activities with my 3 year old.  A few times it's been simple things like "see how far you can kick that rock on the sidewalk" but sometimes I stumble upon something that really gets his attention.

Most recently: "vegetable soup".
I've been making soups of late due to the abundance of produce available, both in our overgrown garden and from roadside stands.
Tomatoes gone wild!
And thank my lucky stars, Soren's been eating it!  We were out back one afternoon, and I got out the kiddie pool and let him fill it up.  Then while tidying up the yard, I came across an enamel bowl and thought, wow, he might like to make some "vegetable soup."
Sure enough, he did.  I never know what kinds of activities will interest him.  It seems like the elaborate ones, where I've cut out things from construction paper, etc. never last more than 2 minutes, but this one went on for almost an hour.  And picked up again the next day.
All you need is a bowl, a spoon, water, and some plants that you don't mind scavenging from your yard.

We went around, picking leaves, herbs, mushy tomatoes, seed pods and other things, then added them to the soup.  S kept asking me for more "secret ingredients"--it was so cute.
When I'd give him the item, we'd decide what kind of veggie it was.  Dried hydrangea blossoms stood in for broccoli, green flower stalks were green beans, and peony seed pods were snap peas.
The next day on our walk to the park, he started collecting natural things like pine cones and acorns, to turn into soup the next day.  I'm still shocked at how engaged he was with this activity, and it required virtually no set-up or clean-up on my part.  Just mommy's attention and time, by far his favorite "toy".


  1. I love that he used only fresh ingredients in his soup!

  2. That was one of my kids' favorite things to do! Make soup outside! I love this!!!!

  3. Kathleen your imagination never ceases to amaze me. S is going to invent something life changing sometime in his life, I just know it. He has such an amazing role model who allows him to see things in different ways and doesn't inhibit his thinking. Still hoping you'll adopt me at some point. :)

  4. You have one creative little kid there, Kathleen :)

    I'm sure he takes after both his creative parents!

  5. My middle son would love doing that...and then he'd probably try to eat it! LOL!

  6. LOVE IT!! Thanks for sharing your great idea! I'll be borrowing it.


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