Our neighborhood has this huge community sandbox area, and sometimes the neighbor kids bring out plastic beach toys (probably the same plastic rakes, shovels, and buckets for sale at every Wal-Mart and Target across the country). For some reasons the kids don't really use them in the sand box, but I noticed a few weeks ago that whenever I brought over our real metal shovel the kids would fight over it. So we went to the thrift store the other day and dropped about $5 on a huge bag of metal pie pans and utensils and bakeware (again, probably less than the standard plastic beach set at your standard big box). The kids have played with this stuff every day since we brought it home, making all kinds of disgusting food that I have to pretend to eat.
It's just further proof that some of the oldest ideas are still the best. Since we started discretely leaving the cooking stuff under a bush near the playground, we've noticed new spoons, bowls, and other utensils have magically appeared in the bucket.
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