Looking for a great gift for a toddler without the noise, flashy lights, or batteries? Something educational and fun under $20? Then you have got to try the Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Box. This box is simple but smart- there are wooden food items, a wooden chopping board, and a wooden knife (completely safe, of course). Each food item is chopped up into small pieces and has velcro tabs so they can be “sliced” open, and then put back together. How smart is that? Here are two photos of it in action with my 26 month old daughter.
This toy is great for toddlers, and really does keep them busy. It is recommended for ages 3 and up, and although my daughter absolutely loves it, younger children may need a little more help with the pieces and holding the food item with one hand while having the strength to push the knife down with the other (like the tomato or carrot which tend to roll around). Putting each piece of food back together is just like putting a puzzle back together, so it’s like a box of puzzles all in one. Again, children may need help with this. But it is totally worth it. Whenever my daughter sees me making a meal, she runs to her kitchen to do the same thing, and when that knife hits the chopping board, it really does sound like she’s actually chopping! And this toy is a hit with her friends too.
The one thing I would change if I could would be the design of some of the items. The tomato is just a red ball, the cucumber and bell pepper are just green and the carrot is just orange. A little more thought could have gone into the painting, but for a little one, the fun is in the chopping. We also count the number of pieces each one has, name the colors, and in the future we can use it to teach fractions and the differences between fruits and vegetables.
The Melissa and Doug Food Cutting Box currently retails for $19.99.