Design For Kids Challenge

Runner Up in the
Design For Kids Challenge

One of the Christmas presents under our tree this year for our child is a play kitchen. What kind of fun would it be to run a kitchen with bare cupboards and an empty refrigerator? We've all been there: A few days before payday or a big trip with little time or money for groceries. Ha! I am just teasing; but the thought of my child having and empty refrigerator and pantry made me definitely want to acquire some play food for his kitchen.

My husband and I shopped around for some options for play food and decided to design and build our own customized play food from wood. One great plus about our wooden play food is that we built most of it from wood scraps we had laying around our workshop.

You don't necessarily have to have a play kitchen to make use of this play food set. Play food can be used for playing house, pretend grocery shopping, playing chef, packing a picnic, or making a pretend meal for friends or family members. Play food is an excellent gender neutral gift for smaller children and I believe that pretend play can benefit a younger child in multiple ways. There are many articles you can find online about the benefits of pretend play for children.

I have put together a Step-by-Step Instructable along with a printed labels upload so you too can create this wonderful child's gift. We wish a Merry Christmas to the Instructables Community and hope you all enjoy.





Cut 2x4 wood pieces to size.

  • SPICES (Cut 5) 2" wide and 3" tall.
  • CHIPS O'BOY (Cut 1) 5" long.
  • FROZEN VEGTABLES (Cut 2) 4" long.
  • SPAGHETTI (Cut 1) 7 1/4" long and trim to 2 5/8" tall.
  • MAC N CHEESE (CUT 1) 4 1/2" long and trim to 2 1/2" tall.

Cut 2x6 wood pieces to size.

  • CRACKERS (Cut 1) 4 1/2" long and trim to 4" wide.
  • CEREAL (Cut 1) 6 1/4" long and trim to 4" wide.
  • WAFFLES (Cut 1) 5 3/4" long and trim to 3 1/2" wide.
  • MILK & JUICE (Cut 1) 7 1/2" long (this will end up making both jugs). Next, cut a 1/2" deep groove into one end of the board 1/2" from outer edge and repeat for the other side. Adjust your table saw blade to a 30 degree angle and cut 3/4" deep; again, repeating for both sides. Remove cut out sections and file with a rasp. Next, cut the width of the jugs to 3" wide to create 2 jugs. (Photos of these cuts are shown in the photos here).

Cut 1/2" wood pieces and the 3/8" dowel for spice rack.

  • Cut bottom piece of 1/2" plywood at 10" long and 2 1/2" wide.
  • Cut back piece at of 1/2" plywood 10" long and 3" wide.
  • Cut (2) side pieces squares of 1/2" plywood to 3" tall and 3" wide. Then, mark 1 3/4" from bottom and cut a corner off at a 30 degree angle on each side piece.
  • Cut 3/8" dowel at 10 1/2" long.

Cut 2" wooden dowel.

  • SOUP CANS (Cut 3) 3" long pieces of 2" wooden dowel.


Using the round over bit, router the edges of each of the (5) spice pieces.


We used a table top belt sander to sand all of our wooden pieces, but there are many other sanding methods (including hand sanding) that can be utilized to sand the pieces. The most important factor with the sanding is to make sure that the pieces are completely sanded eliminating all sharp edges and splinters. For safety reasons, we chose to slightly round over all of our edges to eliminate the sharper corners.


Drill 3/8" hole in each side piece 1/4" deep. Use wood glue to attach base, back, side pieces, and dowel piece into position. Brad Nail pieces together.


Paint wooden pieces choosing paint colors that match each label. It is very important to select non toxic brands of paints when painting items that will be played with by children. Non toxic craft acrylic paint (found at your local craft store) comes in many color options, dries quickly, and is water based making clean up easy. Make sure you let your paint completely dry before moving to the next step of applying the labels.


I created the labels using my Adobe Illustrator program on my computer. I have attached them here in PDF for and you are welcome to use them or you could even create your own custom labels for yourself if you have graphics software and you prefer something different. Keep in mind that the labels I have created are sized for the pieces that we cut in this Instructable. If you print 2 sets, you can apply labels on both sides of the wooden blocks but this is purely optional. If you chose to use my labels, you will either print them yourself on card stock on your home printer or you can have them printed at your local print house. For Mod Podge Application, using card stock versus standard paper is recommended.

Once you have your printed labels, use scissors or a paper cutter to carefully cut and trim each label.

Now, you are ready to apply the labels to your painted blocks by using Mod Podge Hard Coat or Mod Podge Furniture Formula. I selected this particular product because it is non toxic and provides an extra durable finish to items that receive heavy use/handling. One important thing to consider when using either of these product formulas is that it does take about 4 weeks to fully cure. Allowing to fully cure is advisable before the finished items should be played with.

Adhere each label with Mod Podge by applying a medium coat of Mod Podge to the surface. Using too little Mod Podge will result in wrinkles and you can always wipe away excess Mod Podge. Place your label on top of the medium base coat of Mod Podge and keep smoothing out all of the air bubbles. You can smooth by hand, use a squeegie, or a plastic credit card as a tool to help smooth and aheare the paper label to each block. Then (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) let the label dry at least 3 hours. DO NOT PUT A TOP COAT ON RIGHT AWAY.

Once you have allowed the label to set for the 3 hour period, add a top coat using a sponge or flat brush. Allow to dry for an hour and then repeat. The number of coats you apply is up to you but you should apply at least 2 coats. Let dry and completely cure for 4 weeks.


The play food is now ready to wrap and place under the Christmas Tree. I'm really looking forward to observing the hours of pretend play fun my child will have with these. Thank you for taking the time to read my wooden play food Instructable and a Very Merry Christmas to you all!



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    These look like they would be so much fun and so nice and sturdy! Very important :)

    Wow. You made your child a Warhol gallery. Nice.

    Thank you for being so generous with your creation. I am looking forward to making these. Being able to print off labels is wonderful.

    These are awesome, great job!

    Wow! These are beautiful! And the PDF labels are a lovely gift, too. Thank you for sharing this!

    Thank you so much! I'm working on another similar (yet different) toy food project currently and will be publishing it sometime this coming week so keep an eye out for it too.

    What a creative idea~ Thanks for sharing your hard work~


    That's a really cute idea for a present! I'm sure they're going to love it :)