I’ve been having Jackson help me cook for a few months now, maybe starting when he was 14-16 months old. He loves being involved in everything I do, and cooking can be such a great learning experience for any age!
Some people have made comments about how J is too young to help me in the kitchen. Sure J’s not a great stirrer and sometimes he misses the bowl when pouring. But, by allowing him to help, he’s practicing these skills. He’s also learning to follow directions and how to be a helpful member of our family. I try to include J in everything I do around the house (laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, wiping off the table), and cooking is a part of that.
I stated out by pointing to things in the refrigerator or pantry and asking him to hand them to me. I also let him help stir (not anything hot or on the stove though). At 18 months we had our first true cooking session. I measured out ingredients and he helped pour, mix, and scoop. It went well and we both had fun. Just last week he helped me make Chex party mix and peppermint bark. Here’s how he helped.
He helped me unwrap all of the peppermints and smash them up with a rubber mallet. He also helped me pour the peppermint pieces into the melted white chocolate. For the Chex Mix, he poured all of the cereal and seasonings into the baking dish and stirred it all together.
Cooking is wonderful for children because:
- It’s a great sensory experience
- It’s wonderful practice for following directions.
- Works on math skills, literacy, science, and social skills
- They must follow the sequence of a recipe (first, second, third, ect.)
- Perfect example of cause and effect. You add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and see how they change. How does cooking something change it’s texture?
- Opens up the door for discussions about where our food comes from.
- The best part is how wonderful of a bonding experience cooking together can be!
Activity #12: Cook something with your children
If you’ve never done this before then start out simple. Brownies out of a box where you only have to add oil, water, or eggs is a great place to start. If you’re feeling more adventurous make Christmas cookies or your favorite recipe. I have some recipes on my Pinterest cooking and sweet things boards if you need inspiration.
Things to remember about cooking with children:
- Safety First! Only have them help with things that are safe for their age. I wouldn’t have a 2 year old help me chop veggies, but I might allow a 10 year old to.
- Only have them help with things that they are capable of doing. J can help me pour ingredients that I‘ve already measured, but he’s not capable of measuring himself.
- Teach safety along the way. Teach about what’s hot and sharp and what we should not touch, but also food safety like washing our hands.
- They will probably make more of a mess than you would, but have them clean up and that’s a learning lesson too!
Tomorrow: Let’s get to Building!
My middle child loves cooking! She always likes to be next to me when I am cooking and when I am doing something she cannot help with, she still likes to watch. We started out with boxed muffins. Lots and lots of muffins when she was about 18 months and now she helps with almost all my food prep.
I love cooking with my kids. Sure it’s a lot more work and mess. But they are so excited to be my official Chocolate chip taster. It’s so much fun.