My little girl has become quite the chef. She even has her own cooking show, where she says "And then..." over and over while mixing her "ingredients" in her hat, bucket, bowl, purse, etc. I decided she needed to have a real kitchen to work in--well--a real pretend kitchen to work in. Here's what I used to make her a small kitchenette: a medium sized cardboard box, a paper towel tube, metal or plastic bowl (has to have some sort of lip on the edge), pen, cerated knife, tape, paint, felt, Elmer's Glue, string, yarn and a few odds and ends for "hardware."
Before you get started, make sure the box you have chosen to use is a good height for your little one. And make sure it will hold up to mini Iron Chef-ing. It would be very sad if the kitchenette fell apart after just a few months.
Step one: tape your box completely closed on all sides. Make it secure. Then measure where you want your sink, faucet, stove top, oven door, and cupboard doors to be stationed. Mark all areas with your pen.
Step two: Use your knife to cut open the oven door, cupboard doors, sink area and faucet area. When cutting the oven and cupboard doors open, be sure to only cut 3 edges, and score the remaining edge so that it will open smoothly. Also, to cut the sink space, place your bowl open side down on the box. Trace it, and then cut it a bit smaller than the lip on the bowl. Cut the hole for the faucet exactly the same size as the paper towel tube. Err on the smaller side, not the bigger.
Step 3: Create the faucet out of the paper towel tube. Mine is not a super clean job, but it works. I cut two wedges out of my paper towel role so that it would curve over the sink. I angled the paper towel tube and taped it back together. The end of the paper towel tube that is going to be inserted in the cardboard box needs to be clipped about 1/4 of an inch in, perpendicular to the open edge. Insert the clipped edge into the faucet hole. Under the "counter top," bend out the edges of the paper towel role to secure the faucet in place. Glue and let dry. Then tape like crazy to reinforce it.
Step 4: Install Sink. Literally plug the bowl in and move on.
Step 5: Get creative and paint away. I removed my bowl so I didn't accidentally get paint on it.
Step 6: Gather your odds and ends and paint them (if you need to) to turn them into cupboard handles, oven handles, towel racks, hot/cold faucet knobs, element knobs, oven temperature knob, etc.
Step 7: Now, what to do about those elements. There are so many ways you could make cool stove-top elements. Mine are not that complex. 4 circles of felt glued with Elmer's Glue to the "stove top." I also decided to reinforce the felt elements with large stitches of fun colored yarn sewn through small holes I made in a spiral pattern in the cardboard top. This is really helpful to prevent kids ripping the elements off of the stove.
Step 8: Install your hardware any way you like. I used hemp-like string and looped it through small holes I made in the cardboard cupboard and oven doors. I used a pretty small phillips head screwdriver to push through the cardboard. It worked really well.
Step 9: Add a little costume apron and giggle as you watch your little chef host her own cooking show: "And then, stir for two minutes....And then taste it....And then...."