Cooking and Baking

Cooking with Kids for Fun and Learning

This morning, Kia Robertson at “Today I Ate A Rainbow” shared a post from Tiffany McCauley at The Gracious Pantry about teaching kids to love cooking. Involving kids in the kitchen is a powerful way to develop some kindergarten readiness and life skills!

cooking with young childrenCooking, without doubt, is a highly sensory experience. There are different textures to feel; smells that range from the delightful one of bread in the oven to the urgent one of burning toast; all kinds of tastes; an endless variety of colors and shapes to see, and the sounds of voices and activity.

All that activity gets better with practice. Have you ever watched a professional chef? Their movements are like a coordinated dance. I confess I feel clumsy in the kitchen after that. Measuring, stirring, and even slicing a banana take brain power as well as muscles.

Cooking can help develop higher level thinking skills like doing steps in a particular order, observing, and following directions. One of the hardest activities is timing. This Goldilocks’ skill of having something cooked just right needs patience while waiting for something to cook enough. Not paying attention and procrastinating means the chance of something being overdone!

cooking with kids for fun and learningPlus there’s basic science, counting and measuring for math, using language purposefully, vocabulary, creativity and art– check out the carrot-guacamole-chips flower.

Tiffany included some wonderful reasons for “munchkin helper” such as: creating a connection and understanding with food, strengthening family bonds, boosting confidence and self-reliance, and encouraging healthy eating.

Cooking with young helpers isn’t always easy. We need to keep an eye on kids as they learn about safety in the kitchen. Our hands are double busy as we work and play together. Yes, cooking with kids can feel like play to them. There are so many exciting things to discover and explore.

For a play-of-the-day can you and your child cook up some fun and learning in the kitchen?  What kinds of recipes do you and your child make together?

(P.S. Thank you Kia Robertson and Tiffany McCauley. How can there ever be too many cooks?)

Valentine Healthy Chocolate Smoothie Treat

Could the real reason why the chicken crossed the road be because she saw a sign that said chocolate?

For Valentine’s, treats can be sweet and healthy at the same time. Plus, when kids help in the kitchen they are having fun and learning some important kindergarten readiness and life skills. This chocolate smoothie is nutritious and easy:

cooking with kids 1. Using a plastic picnic knife, kids can slice half a banana into a big measuring cup.

2. Now, for the fun part, let your child use the potato masher to squish and smoosh the banana all up.

3. It might be an idea to check if there are any big lumps. Sprinkle one or two spoons of cocoa powder over the banana depending on how much you and your child like chocolate.

4. Mix that all up and stir in about a cup of milk. This can be dairy or non-dairy such as soy, rice or almond milk.

5. This part needs grownup hands. Pour the smoothie from the measuring cup into a blender. Add 2 or 3 ice cubes, put the lid on, and blend until smooth. A hand blender sort of splatters and is messy.

6. Pour into cups and enjoy. If using straws, they need to be fairly big so bits of banana and ice don’t get stuck.

Involving kids in the preparation of food includes lots of learning. There’s no doubt that cooking is a sensory experience, for all the senses. Cooking gives a chance to practice actions like measuring, stirring, doing steps in a particular order, observing, and following directions. Waiting is not always easy, but it can certainly be important. Sharing will be part of the process too. Kids also learn about safety. They will feel proud of being able to help, even with cleanup. Language is a big part of the activity: new words, explaining, and asking questions. What are some of the ways that your child says delicious?

Christmas Eve Milk and Cookies

Do you remember in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten where Robert Fulgham says “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you?” Santa must have read that too because all over the world kids will be leaving milk and cookies. Here’s a quick craft for both Santa and kindergarten readiness fun and learning.

Santa-cookie-plateThis week I saw a wonderful idea from Stephanie Haass at Two-daloo for a cookie plate for Santa. Both Big Sister and Little Sister drew on a paper plate, contributing as they were able. Big Sister carefully drew a picture of Santa so he would know it was his plate. Little Sister colored lines back and forth over the whole space.

Where does the kindergarten readiness come in? It’s helpful for kids to have some experience using tools like crayons.  Coloring a plate for Santa gives kids an opportunity to use crayons or markers. Also, the scribbling of younger kids and the picture drawing of older ones are stages in learning to write. It was so interesting to see the scribble and the picture at the same time, reflecting the different stages of a two-year old and a five-year old.

There’s also some learning with the cookies. How many cookies to leave for Santa can be considered a math problem. Kids get a chance to exercise problem-solving thinking skills. Is one enough? How many cookies would be too many?There might be some discussion about what kind of cookie to leave for Santa. Thinking about what other people might like is a form of empathy. Being able to see an issue from someone else’s point of view takes lots of practice.

Math, social skills, problem-solving, early writing, and more learning are not obvious in this simple activity. Plus there’s the fun of getting ready for Santa. Finally, finally it’s almost Christmas. Do your kids leave cookies for Santa?

Kindergarten Readiness: Christmas in a Bowl

Recently on FB, several friends posted about the highlight of their day: cooking Christmas favorites with kids. Did you know this is an awesome–and tasty–way to combine fun, learning, and family time? One family was making tamales and another rolling out pyrogies. A friend’s family was making homemade chocolates and at another house Grandma and … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Christmas in a Bowl

Christmas Fun – Sense of Smell

Using the senses to explore and learn about the world is part of brain development and kindergarten readiness. As humans, we experience the world through our senses, so it’s important for kids to have lots of opportunities to use all their senses: taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch. When it comes to the sense of … Continue reading Christmas Fun – Sense of Smell

Kindergarten Readiness Fall Activity #Ate: Making Applesauce

Cooking with kids can happen at any season and here is a kindergarten readiness fun and learning activity especially for fall time: making applesauce. Applesauce is a favorite for kids’ snacks but it doesn’t just come in packages, it’s easy to make at home. To make applesauce, cut 2 or 3 apples into smaller pieces, … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness Fall Activity #Ate: Making Applesauce

Cooking with Kids for Kindergarten Readiness

This month’s blog posts have been about “Connections” and when it comes to kids and food, there’s lots of ways to connect for fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness. Kids seem to have an entirely different connection to foods that grownups. Some days they will like a particular food, other days they will refuse to eat … Continue reading Cooking with Kids for Kindergarten Readiness

Pirate Fun Activities For Kids #26: Pirate Snacks

Pirates and kids need snacks and preschool kids are not too young to be part of making snacks and, even more important, making healthy snack choices. Kitchens are full of treasures for fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness, like counting, colors, shapes, sizes, comparing, making decisions, etc. Kids like finger food and Pirate Loot can be … Continue reading Pirate Fun Activities For Kids #26: Pirate Snacks

Summer Fun, Learning, Eating and Cooking with Kids

Summer fun can happen in any room in the house and especially the kitchen; with all the wonderful veggies and fruits currently available, kids can help “cook” some great treats. Much more than kindergarten readiness, a positive attitude to healthy food choices is a life skill. The following words are from a friend who posted … Continue reading Summer Fun, Learning, Eating and Cooking with Kids

Summer Fun and Learning in a Tasty Treat

Popsicles are a favorite summer treat and making a batch can be fun and learning (and support kindergarten readiness) at the same time. Thank you so much to the artsy momma, Dot Falcon, at Busted Button who posted these on her FB page today. These popsicles use 3 ingredients: blueberries, strawberries and coconut milk. Kids … Continue reading Summer Fun and Learning in a Tasty Treat