Cooking with children
I love cooking with children. My children were introduced to this activity at a very young age. Even my picky eater enjoyed participating. Although he didn't always taste the foods we prepared, he was always very proud of the result. With time, he began dipping his finger in our preparations and tasting them now and then. I always appreciated how cooking with my children made it possible for me to accomplish two things at once: enjoy an activity with them while preparing part of a meal, a snack, or a dessert (fulfilling a basic need). Cooking with children is a definite win-win!
Of course, those are the advantages of inviting children to work in the kitchen with you... We all know that cooking with children can also mean flour all over the counter, an egg on the floor, and spills... lots of spills. These are all possibilities when cooking with little ones since they are part of a learning process. Think about it though, things can get messy when adults cook too. Let's focus on the positive: spending time with children, providing learning opportunities, and creating memories.
To maximize your chances of success, here is a list of tips and tricks that can help make cooking with young children enjoyable for all.
- Whenever possible, pick the recipe with the children in your group. If they are interested in the result, they will be motivated, especially those who are sceptic.
- Choose a simple recipe with few ingredients and very little steps. As children's skills and patience grow, you will be able to increase the difficulty of the recipes you prepare together.
- Take advantage of this type of activity to teach children basic hygiene measures: handwashing, cleaning work surfaces, etc.
- Your little cooks will look adorable in tiny aprons and chef hats. If possible, provide these items to make the activity extra fun.
- Read the chosen recipe with the children in your group. Illustrated recipes represent a great option. Children will easily be able to follow along. This will also help them develop organizational skills.
- Once you have begun executing the steps involved for your recipe, be sure to give children a single instruction at a time. Have them execute each necessary action before moving on to the next one.
- To avoid a total catastrophe and loss of control, make sure you have everything you need on hand: ingredients, kitchen utensils, bowls, measuring cups, etc.
- Consider children's age and capacities when distributing tasks. In general, children can easily participate in cooking activities as of 2 ½-3 years of age. Different tasks they can perform:
o Break the eggs.
o Stir with a spoon.
o Measure and pour ingredients.
o Cut fruits and vegetables using plastic knives.
o Mash and purée soft foods using a fork.
Be careful! To avoid burns, children must perform these tasks far from heat sources.
Be sure to taste your creations... even the pickiest eaters will be tempted!