Cooking is fun and enjoyable for children. They get the joy of creating a dish and eating it. Children use all of their senses while cooking; letting them cook helps them to be more comfortable with food and can make them healthier eaters.
Cooking is a great opportunity to introduce some early math concepts in a fun environment. Think about all the mathematical language and equipment used during cooking; adding, reducing, weighing, scales and measuring.
Your kitchen is the perfect place to chat with your child. If your child can read, have your child read out the recipe while you gather the ingredients and materials needed for the dish. In fact, following the steps in a recipe helps children learn about sequencing—essential for good communication skills.
- Speak to them about what happens first, next, after and last while you are preparing the dish.
- Ask your child to imagine what the dish will look like once finished. Will it look like the picture?
- Use lots of ‘describing’ words while you cook.
- Using words such as ‘crackle’, ‘fizz’,and ‘crunch’ is great for helping your child to practice communication skills.
- Get your child to use all five senses while cooking. Talk about how things smell, taste, feel, sound and look.
- Ask your child how the mixture turns out once it’s been cooked.
Preparing and cooking a meal requires patience and care. You can show your child that cooking a meal for family and friends is a way of giving and receiving love. Friends and family appreciate the time and effort it takes to make a meal. They also give lots of praise for the chef! Sharing a special family recipe, cooking for a holiday or making special treats for a friend’s birthday are great ways of creating lasting memories that your child will treasure forever.
In order for cooking to be a fun activity for you and your child, you will need to plan. Try not to plan a cooking activity with your child if you need to eat in a hurry. Remember, your child is in control. Don’t stress out about the mess made in the kitchen – your child can have fun helping you to clear up. Let them pick an ingredient they like and build a dish around that.
Getting your child to help in the kitchen gives a hands-on way for your child to discover new flavors and new foods, boosts your child’s math, language skills and even emotional development.
Here are some simple fall recipes to try:
Fall Colored Leaf Cookies. When thinking of fall, the image of colorful leaves usually pops up in our minds. This cookie recipe take advantage of that and represents the beautiful fall leaves. The only extra materials needed (besides the cookie dough) is leaf cookie cutters and food coloring. This can be a fun time to go out with your child and look at the leaves. Have them observe the colors and then go back in and pick out the needed food coloring. You can buy sugar cookie dough or make your own. Separate the cookie dough into smaller potions in a couple bowls. Your child can help you put drops of food coloring in the selected bowls or supervise to let you know if more is needed to bring out the color. After mixing the food coloring in and combining the dough, your child may be able to help the rolling process. They may not be able to physically use the roller, but they could start the process by smashing the dough down, making it thinner for you to roll. After that, have them help you use the cookie cutters to make the leaves, then bake them.
Candy Cornucopia. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this can be a fun way to involve your child. It is also super simple. Some waffle cones and little treats such as M&M’s can make a cute holiday desert for the kids. While the parent will have to do the molding with the points of the cones to make the cornucopia shape, the child can help dip the cones and fill them. You can also give them a couple of options they can pick from to fill the cornucopia. Wrap them with clear plastic wrap and it’s a cute cornucopia treat recipe. Turn this into something educational by explaining what a cornucopia is.
Pumpkin Muffins. Pumpkins are a huge part of fall, so why not make some tasty muffins with them. This recipe is basic and only takes 10 minutes to prepare and then 15 minutes to bake. They can help with stirring all the ingredients together and even sifting the flour mixture. Your child may even be able to help pour the mix into the muffin tray. Try giving them a smaller ladle with the amount needed for each muffin cup. This way they won’t overfill. Don’t forget to let your child be in charge of the timer.
Apple Pie Crescents. Apples are another fall related food item. For this recipe, you can use canned apple slices or just cut up apples. Consider going to an apple orchard and letting the children pick out their own apples. That could be a fun family activity. All you need for this recipe is the apples, caramel syrup, cinnamon, and crescent dough. You can lay out the dough pieces and have the child place one apple slice per dough. Either you or the child could sprinkle some cinnamon and then roll it up. The next step is baking. Once again, put your child in charge of the timer and have them check on the progress. After the apple crescents are done, pour some caramel on top and enjoy.
Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix. If your child loves trail mix, try this pumpkin seed version for a fall recipe twist. Have your child help combine all the seeds into a bowl, add some maple syrup, and stir it all together. The next step includes spreading the mix onto a pan for cooking. This could be a fun (and messy) way to get your child more involved. Let your child use his hands (cool sensory) or a large spoon to spread the mix onto the pan. Sprinkle some salt on the mix and pop into the oven for 20 minutes. Let your child be in charge of the timer. After the seeds are done and cool, add the remaining ingredients.