Children learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening.
They love to help prepare food and cook because they can use all their senses. Children like to eat the foods they make. Plan ways the children in your care can help you. Be sure to consider the age of the child.
Of course babies can’t cook yet, but they will enjoy being with you and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the kitchen.
• Talk about what you are doing as you move around the kitchen.
• When babies begin to crawl, they’re safest in a high chair in the kitchen.
• Talk about and name cooking utensils and foods.
• Talk about what they like to eat.
• Give babies a separate bowl and spoon and let them mix foods that are safe for them to eat.
Two-year-olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms. They will enjoy these activities:
• scrubbing vegetables and fruits
• dipping vegetables and fruits
• tearing lettuce and salad greens
• breaking bread for stuffing
• snapping fresh beans
• wiping tables
Three-year-olds are learning to use their hands. Try these activities:
• pouring liquids into a batter
• mixing muffin batter
• shaking a milk drink
• spreading peanut butter on firm bread (This may be messy!)
• kneading bread dough
Four- and five-year-olds are learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers. Offer them experiences such as these:
• rolling bananas in cereal for a snack
• juicing oranges, lemons, and limes
• mashing soft fruits and vegetables
• measuring dry and liquid ingredients
• grinding cooked meat for meat spread
• beating eggs with an eggbeater
Reader Question: What do/did your kids do to help in the kitchen?