My children love to help out in the kitchen and I honestly don’t always love their help; but I allow them to help me often because I believe the benefits outweigh my lack of patience. ha ha! Cooking with kids doesn’t need to be complicated or intense; my two, three and four year old love to help out and I give them specific jobs that fit their skill level. My older two children are really starting to develop their cutting skills (butter knives) and their kitchen confidence is growing too! And as an added bonus, when they help out with the meal/snack/drink they are more likely to eat/drink it = win win.
Here are a few ways that you can bring your kids into the kitchen:
When you let your little ones stir [anything] they develop an appreciation for the meal as well as a sense of satisfaction because they were involved. Start by allowing them to stir cold or dry ingredients together, moving to warmer ingredients with supervision. Stirring also helps the little ones to further develop their fine motor skills and coordination.
This may sound daunting but it really doesn’t have to be; I equip my little ones with butter knives and cutting boards and they do great! Remember to give them soft items to cut so that they don’t get frustrated and lose interest. We usually provide the kids with mushrooms, bell peppers, cheese, and bananas since we eat them on a regular basis and they are easy to cut. Not only are your children honing their fine motor skills but they are also working on coordination and repetition.
Pretty much how it sounds, let your little ones dump the ingredients together; while dumping be sure to discuss what each item is and how much you are using. This builds on their literacy and early math skills.
If little ones are helping with a recipe that requires measuring ingredients you can let them scoop the ingredients into the measuring cup. While you are working through the recipe be sure to tell them what you are adding and what measurements you are using, this will set them up for future success in the kitchen and build on early math skills.
Our family loves smoothies so our blender is often being used to make them. My kids love to help out by adding the ingredients and/or pushing the on button. This gives them a sense of accomplishment and a delicious drink.
Last year we partnered with a local business and agreed to give juicing a try; and now we use our juicer on a regular basis. My kids love to add the fruit and veggies in and especially love to drink the fresh juice. We use juicing as an opportunity to talk about how fruit and veggies can be used in different ways to create different things or to eat as they are.
Using the rolling pin is not only fun but also builds on your child’s skills and coordination. While rolling out your dough be sure to talk about thickness and uniformity.
Cookie Cutters are not only fun but they are skill building as well. Your child with enhance their coordination and fine motor skills as they use the cookie cutters. Keep in mind cookie cutters can be used to cut bread/pita/wraps into interesting shapes as well as cookie dough.
If you are cooking/baking something that requires a recipe or directions be sure to read them out loud to your child(ren). This not only encourages literacy but also gives them an understanding and appreciation for what they are doing! Added bonus, if your child can read on his/her own they can practice reading the recipe to you.
- Be sure to talk to your children about kitchen safety, hot ovens/stoves and sharp knives can be quite appealing to the little ones who are developing kitchen confidence.
- Always supervise your little ones in the kitchen
- Start slow and introduce them to helping out at a pace that you are comfortable with
- Have fun with it
Do your little ones help out in the kitchen? Why or why not?
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