I'm going to share with you a few of my new favorite things to do while I'm in the kitchen cooking. I really thought these ideas were crazy at first but they work.
1. Rice Sensory Bin. It's filled with rice (and yes, I've actually filled this with just water before, too!) and a few little random objects including scoops, containers and small random toys. The kids really love playing with it. It's messy but it entertains.
The proof is I was trying to cook this amazing meal thanks to Hello Fresh but how could I cook if I didn't entertain her? So, she sat and played while I cooked....finished meal....still a happy baby...and....yes, that's my floor after covered in rice but easily swept up!
2. Slime. We took cornstarch and water and mixed it. He continued to mix it and play for a solid chunk of time. He prefers to use the spoon as he did not want to dirty his hands. Want more info: read this.
3. There is always Playdoh. I know, I keep mentioning all these ridiculously messy things but let's be honest -- it keeps them entertained for a huge chunk of time. Here is Little Man's MAN.
4. Playdoh PLUS extras. We used spaghetti & cheerios. The kids put the spaghetti into the playdoh and put the cheerios on the spaghetti. Then, they broke the spaghetti and put broken pieces and cheerios in the playdoh to make some extra masterpieces.
5. Sorting and stuffing. I took these little containers and poked holes in the top. The kids love putting the small pom-pons through the top of the container. Sometimes they'll sort them and sometimes they just empty, squish them in, empty, squish them in. I also have used an old spice container and allow them to stick pipe cleaners into it. These ideas are so simple but keep the kids so busy and are excellent ideas for working on fine motor skills!
6. Dry erase board and magnets! Little man loves this magnetic dry erase board. He'll toss up our ABC and 123 magnets (dollar store). We even color on it.
7. When in doubt....ask for help. Little Man's job is to get the dogs their food. Of course, Baby A always wants to help. She often makes "puppy dog stew" and the dogs eat it :-/ Or, she'll dump it all over the floor. Anyways...when in doubt...take a breath and let them play.
I'm not sure if these ideas helped you at all but they have kept my kids entertained while I'm slicing, dicing and sautéing. If you have some great ideas - let me know! We are always looking to add more to our list of kitchen friendly play!