kids in the kitchen

October Alphabet: K is for Kitchen Fun with Kids

Not just October, but anytime of the year is great for some kitchen fun with kids. And learning too. We can easily cook up both.

cooking-lp-okInvolving kids in the kitchen has  some immediate as well as long-term benefits. Sometimes, as a child, it seems like adults get to have all the fun. We might think what we are doing is work, but to a child, cooking can seem like fun. Adults get to use cool gadgets, splash in the sink washing stuff, mix ingredients like a science experiment with instructions, and create things to eat. What magic! No wonder kids want to help.

Besides being part of the fun, when kids help in the kitchen, they are creating a different kind of connection to food. They figure out they have more options than just the two of take it or leave it depending on how food is prepared and served.

cooking with kids turkey snackRaw veggies and dip are an alternative to cooked ones. These brightly colored pepper slices come complete with a bit of ranch dressing. (Colored circles with a turkey face make them festive.)

Besides the ingredients in a recipe, there are some not even listed like math, science, language, and more. The math comes as kids measure and count. For science, individual ingredients undergo a change as they are mixed, heated, or cooled. Talking, explaining, and adding new words to vocabulary are stirred in too. There are some brain strategies like following instructions and doing steps in a sequence.

Making applesauce is almost a tradition for fall. With harvest produce, another idea is vegetable soup. If your child knows the story of Stone Soup, you can start with one.

A Halloween favorite is Monster Munch made with small finger items such as cheerios, raisins, fishy crackers, puffed wheat, dried cranberries, nuts, tiny pretzels, and  even a few chocolate chips. Kids can help with making any of these, or UnCandy Corn parfait snacks.

When kids help in the kitchen, they feel they are contributing and their effort is valued. Being part of the team is important for any of us.

From Easy Bake Oven to Famous Chef

Children’s play can be so powerful that the learning and fun stretches from an early age all the way into adulthood, from kindergarten readiness to career readiness. From an artist that drew on the wall about the age of 2, to a nurse that played with Dr. Barbie, a mathematician that enjoyed numbers, a designer that “always like to draw”, a scientist that took apart her toys and dolls, and a crafter who created and sold products to her childhood friends, today’s post is about a famous chef.

kitchen play activities for young childrenI love this anecdote about chef, restaurant owner, and tv personality, Bobby Flay. Apparently, at the age of eight, Bobby Flay wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. According to Wikipedia, his father thought a GI Joe would be more appropriate for a boy. Even though Bobby got both toys at Christmas, the oven was not just a passing whim. Ten years after that Easy-Bake oven Christmas gift, he began working in the restaurant industry. That has been his career now for more than 30 years.

cooking activities with kidsPlaying chef can start with a few real pots and pans on the kitchen floor as well as kitchen toys or, perhaps, some recyclables. There are many choices of children’s dishes and food sets. Plus, kids like to help prepare and cook real food. Although it can’t really be called “help”, kids enjoy being included in the kitchen. Washing vegetables should be fairly safe for younger toddlers and slicing soft things like bananas can be done with a plastic knife for older kids. In the summer, kitchen play toys can move out of doors to a sandbox or mud bowl, but in the winter, inside is a better choice for most areas.

So often, adults do not see the drive, importance, and passion in children’s play. For some fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness, would your child like to play cook-in-the-kitchen today?

Easter Bunny Snack

Today’s kindergarten readiness learning and fun play-of-the-day is brought to you by the Easter bunny, who has a snack in his basket. Somehow, despite all the other foods that rabbits eat, when asked most kids will say they eat carrots. This Easter bunny shares a snack of some carrots, celery, and dip.

developing kindergarten readinessMost kids love to help in the kitchen. While peeling carrots and cutting sticks is a job for big adult hands, kid hands can stir up a little dip or spoon some into a small container. This origami bunny is made out of paper so he’d better only hop the dip to the table. Including kids in cooking and food preparation is one way of interesting them in what they are eating. Why do bunnies eat rabbit food? So they are healthy bunnies.

As kids help in the kitchen, they are practicing various skills:

  • using language for directions and explaining,
  • doing things in sequence, for example the veggies need to get washed first,
  • developing a sense of self-worth as they take care of their bodies by eating nutritious food,
  • cooperating and working together, sharing and taking turns,
  • strengthening fine-muscles by stirring, dipping,
  • learning about safety such as letting grownups use sharp items and more

This is an activity where learning piggy-backs onto something that families are already doing. Neither the to-do list or the budget had to get stretched. In a way, the learning is like an extra ingredient, or maybe an extra treat from the Easter bunny?