“ Brand: ELC / Type: Kitchenwares „
We had a tea party after school today, a very special tea party just for Ashleigh, Michael and two select toys. Ashleigh invited her dolly and Michael brought Pip the Otter, Pop's a bit upset at being left out but I've promised him he can come to the next one. There were plenty of cakes, sandwiches and of course cups of tea for everybody all served up on a delightful tea set that was bought from the Early Learning Centre many, many years age.
Today it was Michael's turn to serve and he did a brilliant job of setting the table, matching all the different colour plates, cups and saucers together, and he even managed to put the knives, forks and spoons in almost the right places. He gave everybody really yummy sandwiches, making sure that they said please and thank you, of course. Then he poured the tea, he's getting really good at this now and even remembers to ask if they want milk and sugar, just watch his hands they're really quite steady. After the sandwiches were eaten up it was Ashleigh's job to wash and dry them ready for pudding and today they had cakes, yummy. Sadly, the food and drink was finished all too soon and it was time for dolly and Pip to go home, and for all the cups, saucers plates and cutlery to be put away, until next time.
~~~The tea set~~~
Our tea set has been in the family for about 6 years now, ever since my eldest girl got it for her third birthday. It was bought from the Early Learning Centre and consists of four plates, bowls, cups, saucers, knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons along with a lidded teapot, sugar bowl and milk jug all in bright primary colours along with four glasses. This was actually the deluxe version, and I believe it cost us about £10. Looking on the ELC website I can see that they still sell an almost identical set, with a change in colours for exactly the same price, now that's what I call value.
~~~A few extras~~~
Now my children have a few extras (just to help their play along a bit), these include some play food, an old (clean) washing up bowl and a tea towel. You don't actually need any of this, but it just adds to the play value.
~~~Playing at parties~~~
Now my younger children simply love playing at tea parties, but little do they realise that I have ulterior motives in starting these little games off. You see Michael is on the autistic spectrum, and he finds all social interaction difficult, but has particular problems with mealtimes. So these games are a great opportunity to help him learn the skills he needs to cope with mealtimes and all the social niceties that go with them. Of course, Ashleigh has also learnt a lot about table manners too, we always make sure the toys remember their Ps and Qs, and to sit and eat nicely. I've got to the point now that wherever possible, I try to take a back seat role in these little get-togethers as it helps encourage independence, but this is the advantage of having two children with less than a year between them. With an only child, you would need to join in (but always let the child take the lead) to help your child play and encourage their imagination.
And don't forget, just as important (and fun) as the meal is the tidying up afterwards. My two, will pretend to wash and dry the dishes before storing them in their box. This will encourage your children to put their dishes in the sink when they get a bit older (at least that's the idea).
~~~Who can play?~~~
Children will play at tea parties from a very young age, Ashleigh was joining in with her elder sister at about eighteen months, but most tea sets actually say that they're suitable for children over three. Personally, if you are going to be supervising or joining in then I would just go for it, from almost as soon as they start to take an interest in what you're doing around the house.
~~~How Durable is the ELC tea set?~~~
I have to say this is one of the best quality children's tea sets I've ever bought. I've had cheap versions that have barely lasted a week, but these are still around six years later. OK I'll admit it's seen better days and some of the cutlery is looking a bit, well, chewed, but it's still perfectly safe to play with.
~~~What your child will learn~~~
Now I've already touched on some of what your child can learn from tea parties, but and this is a big but, they will only learn something if you help them to, you will need to join in at some point. If you talk to them as they set the table, they can learn to count the plates out, and match the colours of the different items. Then as they play, you can help them discover the sort of behaviour that's expected of them at mealtimes, get them to remind dolly to say please and thank you. Throughout all of the game you will find them communicating more and more, no matter which form of communication they use (Michael uses a mixture of unclear speech and a few signs).
~~~Where to get this set~~~
Strangely enough the ELC tea/dinner sets are only available from the ELC, either in their shops or on-line. They sell a 15 piece set for £5, but personally I feel the 43 piece dinner set offers far more play value at £10.
~~~What Ashleigh thinks of their Tea-set~~~
Ashleigh (6) ~ I like playing tea parties with my dollies, but sometimes Michael's nasty and throws them. But most times he plays too, or Louise or Mummy plays with me.
Michael didn't feel like giving an interview today, he's having a bad evening.
~~~And what Mummy thinks~~~
Well Mummy thinks that every child should have a Tea Set of one form or another, and that the ELC dinner set is great quality, and pretty good value for money. I'm actually thinking that it's about time to replace the one we have now, and yes I'm going back to the ELC, for the simple reason that I know they last longer than any others I've tried.
* For those that are wondering Pip and Pop are purple otter twins that feature in Michael's favourite TV program The Bear In The Big Blue House.
My two year old daughter was lucky enough to be given a teaset for her birthday recently. She has had hours of fun with this simple plastic set. We have had tea with the teddys, tea with the dollies. She has made tea for Dadddy and I, for her brother and sister. She has used the plastic cutlery to eat food she would not normally eat! She has used her imagination in combination with this to have so much, and so varied enjoyment. She has acted out things she has learn't such as using a teapot to pour tea into cups. I didn't even know she knew how to do this. we don't use a teapot! To me it has shown that often the old faithfull toys are the best, and that it doesn't have to be electronic or make a noise to be good for her. I would reccomend that you but a teaset for your child, girl or boy, and let them enjoy hours of pleasure
A complete tea and dinner set for four. 43 pieces for pretend play.