Call me old fashioned but when I’m cooking or we are baking together the girls are spread out on an assortment of chairs, stools, or (gasp) even sitting on the counter. I love those everyday moments in the kitchen with my girls. Baking, cooking, or just prepping food are all great times to work on a variety of skills and concepts with your children. It is normally the little everyday moments that have the greatest impact, so today I am here to share ways you can make cooking or baking together educational, while creating memories.
I have so many memories of baking with my mom and my sister, chocolate cookies were our favorite. I also have memories of the whole family helping my grandmother at the holidays with her amazing stuffing, and of helping my aunt and cousins, too. Not only have those memories stuck around, but their recipes, the little bits of information you pick up as you watch someone cook a meal, and tricks of the cooking world that only experienced bakers would know.
Cooking and baking with your children can teach life lessons such as chocolate chip cookie dough heals ALL wounds. I know I personally learned a lot of family recipes from watching and helping, recipes that I still use today. I also picked up a cooking strategy from my cousin that was extremely helpful when my girls were little and I still use to this day.
Other than sentimental memories and life lessons you can also work on a variety of skills and strategies that can help your younger children prepare for school and give them a great foundation in mathematical skills.
Sequencing: There are many different ways that you can talk about sequencing while you are cooking but one of my favorites is while making pizza. There is definitely a sequence to how a pizza is made and kids will really enjoy learning that sequencing while they help create their pizzas.
Following Directions: A skill that everyone needs to learn and one that is often critical when cooking a meal. Teaching children how to read a recipe and follow a recipe, completing each step one at a time, is a skill that is not only necessary to learning how to cook but also helps them learn why following directions is so important.
Counting: For younger children you can have them count the number of eggs you added to the pancakes or how many pancakes are cooking on the griddle. You can count together or have them count aloud by themselves. For more counting ideas check out Counting Activities for Preschool.
Fractions: This concept is a little bit harder for preschoolers to understand fully but it’s never too early to start introducing them to the idea of part/whole. You can talk about the different sized measuring cups and what each size is, what that means. You can talk about fractions when you cut up your pizza. For example, “We have 8 slices of pizza, now that you have taken a slice away we only have 7 slices out of our 8 slices left.”
Sensory activities: If you aren’t afraid of a little mess, cooking/baking is a great time to let kids feel different textures. You can have them touch and feel the different between flour and brown sugar.
Opposites: In the kitchen there are quite a few ways to talk about opposites.
- Cold and hot water
- Hot stove and cold eggs
- Hot oven and cold milk
- Big and small pans, bowls, or spoons
Vocabulary: While cooking you can work on vocabulary and introducing food items, spices, kitchen tools and utensils to your kids.
Basic Cooking Skills: Even if your little ones are still rather little you can still talk to them, let them observe, and even let them try their hand at some of the basic cooking skills such as measuring, pouring, and mixing. They may only be able to stir for a minute or two but just that little bit of time is a great learning opportunity.
Hygiene: You can also talk to your kids about washing their hands before they cook or pulling up their hair and why those things are important.
Kids sitting on the kitchen counter may not be your thing and that’s totally fine. No matter where they are positioned they can learn so much from helping you in the kitchen, even if they are just watching.
How do you incorporate your kids into your cooking and baking routines? What is your favorite thing to make with your little ones?
Here are some amazing kitchen gadgets that making cooking with little ones even more fun: