kitchen play activities

Some Handy Ideas for Kindergarten Readiness: Cooking

mud-bananaSaturday brunch is the best meal of the week because it is much less rushed and it can serve up some kindergarten readiness. For fun and learning, little hands can help in the kitchen. A favorite treat at our house is cut up fruit with some yogurt dip. Using a picnic knife, young kids can cut up a soft banana. Their hands can help stir the yogurt so it’s nice and creamy. Another way that a child can help is by putting the fruit pieces on plates.

What are some other learning opportunities for children?

  • Lots of language for sure: Just think of all the special words like rinse, bowl, stir, dip, plate, etc.
  • Sizes: small, big, tiny, bigger than, smaller than, and just right. Seeing who got the bigger piece is comparing.
  • Math: Kids are using math concepts when measuring and counting.
  • Organizing: Both getting things and putting then away are organizing activities. We don’t think of having places where things go as a skill to be learned, but this is a basic system of organization. Just think of how many grownup activities depend on a system.
  • Science: observing, predicting, or how change can be reversible or non-reversible; cut bananas can’t be put back together but yogurt can be spread out and piled up over and over.
  • Social skills: cooperating, sharing, taking turns, and waiting.
  • Prereading: using language for instructions, reading a recipe or picture clues.
  • Muscle coordination: safe use of tools, stirring, spreading, dipping, and maybe even helping to wash up.

Letting kids ‘help’ in the kitchen builds their self-esteem and encourages their sense of belonging. These are extra ingredients in the recipe. Can you dish up some fun and learning for the little hands at your house?

Play & Learn for Kindergarten Readiness: in the Kitchen

As children play, they are creating brain connections, learning many important skills and developing kindergarten readiness. Did you know that every room in your house has special opportunities for play? Here’s some ways that your child can learn and play in the kitchen:

  • pots-pansA low drawer dedicated to unbreakable plastic containers can be used by a kneeling baby, a toddler looking for things to pile up and build with, or an older child who wants to play “kitchen”. Sometimes drawers close too quickly, so you may need something to hold the drawer open or just use a box or crate where it won’t be a tripping hazard for you. If you can handle the noise, metal pots and pans and a couple of kitchen tools for drumming are great fun. Be careful of canned food. The tins roll nicely but dropped on a toe, can really hurt.
  • Having a child help with the cooking is always so very helpful but a plastic knife and little hands can slice a banana. Those same hands can play with a bit of flour and water while you cook.
  • The kitchen sink is fun place to play with a bit of water and some containers and spoons for measuring pouring, pretend cooking, and getting water all over so the floor might just as well get washed.  Older kids might like to try a what floats and what sinks science experiment. Who knew that putting a few ice cubes in warm water could be so engaging? Sometimes the cubes stick right together, and shakers-300x225[1]crack as they melt.
  • Forks and spoons can have pretend adventures. “Once upon a time, a spoon wanted to visit the salad bowls. How will I get there she asked? I’ll show you the way said the fork.” Plastic containers and empty boxes in the recycling can be used to play restaurant, train, or office. Great fun.
  • Kitchen chairs can be placed on their sides to make a yard for a pretend kitty and a big blanket draped over the table turns it into a fort for monsters, a tent for camping, a turtle’s shell, a cave for elves , a barn for animals and if you are very fortunate even a hiding place for taking a nap.

Is this stirring up some ideas for you? While all this play is happening in the kitchen, there’s a lot of learning happening in children’s brains. These ideas can be adapted for your family, no matter if you have the whole day or just part of the day at home. What learn and play fun in the kitchen does your child enjoy?

Kindergarten Readiness – More Water

Everything including the kitchen sink!! The kitchen sink is usually a fine place for some basic science but just because some things can go down the drain, a big plastic bowl may be a better ‘sink’ today. Yesterday was so much fun playing in the water in the sink that here is another idea. This time round up some objects to see if they will float or sink: a popsicle stick, a toothbrush, a plastic fork, knife and spoon, a metal fork, knife and spoon, a cork, a sponge, a spool, a plastic lid, a metal lid, etc. Before trying them, first ask your child to guess if something will float or sink. This is called predicting or hypothesizing and is an important step in science. The next step is experimenting; try the objects and observe what they do. Is it the same as the predictions? Did anything surprise you?

This same activity can be repeated with other things such as an apple, grape, banana, orange, and potato. Use a pail in the backyard and try a rock, a shell, a stick, a week, etc. Not only is this great fun, you are teaching your little one some basic science concepts and  helping your child learn some important strategies like making a prediction or hypothesis first and then observing. You may even get a couple minutes to work in the kitchen yourself as a bonus. Does this sound like it could work for you? Float-sink.