I love cooking with kids! Most of the time. It can be hard work, messy and time-consuming, but it can also be fun, inspiring and full of learning!
Cooking with kids has been part of my life. As a child, my mum loved cooking with us and taught us how to cook. She loved having us in the kitchen, although I am sure there were times that she would have preferred some peace and quiet.
While I was studying my Bachelor of Education I worked as a nanny and would often cook with the children that I was caring for. We’d have a great time choosing a recipe, working together and then eating what we had made!
When I started teaching I thought I would love cooking with my Kindy class, but I found it really tricky! Making sure that you know what the whole group is up to and checking that everyone has washed their hands can be hard. I talked to other teachers and learnt to cook with small groups and choose simpler recipes.
My daughter is only 1 so I’m not quite up to the stage of cooking with me yet. However, she loves to be involved with everything that is going on. Her favourite kitchen activities are unpacking the pantry and reorganising the Tupperware cupboard. She has a whisk and a spatula that she plays with while we make dinner and she is learning to ‘help’ unstack the dishwasher. When she is a little bit older and can safely sit or stand at the bench I will get her involved with finding ingredients, mixing things or opening packets.
Cooking together is an activity which is full of learning! Letting our children see us using literacy and numeracy in everyday life is very important for their developing skills. Here is just some of the learning which is going on:
- Pre-literacy – recipes are a simple text which young children can begin to make sense of. ‘Reading’ the recipe and following instructions will help to develop literacy skills.
- Pre-numeracy – there are lots of maths going on in recipes. Children can read the numbers for measuring, setting timers and temperature.
- Connection – working together toward a shared goal creates opportunities for connection and strengthens relationships. Food is a great memory maker – I have fond memories of cooking with my mum and barbequing with my day.
- Fine and gross motor skills – cooking with great for developing motor skills. Gross motor skills are developed when lifting a heavy bottle of milk or stirring the mixture. Fine motor skills are worked on as children use measuring spoons and cups or open packets.
- Directions – there are lots of directions to follow in a recipe. And if you don’t follow them properly it won’t turn out right! This is a great lesson for children to learn and a good opportunity for them to practise their listening skills.
- Hygiene and safety – it is great to be able to teach children about hygiene and safety in a fun environment! It’s important to give children opportunities to experience risks, like using a knife, within a controlled environment.
- Healthy eating – this is such an important topic and children learn best when they are involved. Letting children pick healthy recipes will help them to try new foods and make healthy choices.
Today I’m sharing two of my favourite recipes with you. If you are cooking with a group my go-to recipe is pizza! When you’ve got time to cook with just one or two children I like to make a sweet treat.
Give every child a bowl and a pair of (thoroughly washed) scissors and then set them to work chopping the ingredients. You can use ham, salami, capsicum, mushrooms, spring onions, tinned pineapple, etc.
Use bought pizza bases, add pizza sauce, all of the toppings and cover in cheese! Bake at 180°C until the cheese is melted.
Children always surprise me with what they will eat when it is put on a pizza base and topped with cheese.
Other great group cooking experiences are:
- Fairy Bread
- Choc balls/Apricot balls (anything made with a tin of sweetened condensed milk and crushed biscuits)
Mum’s Chocanana Muffins
When my daughter is a bit older I know we will make these muffins a lot! They were a staple from my childhood and definitely something my mum could make without looking at the recipe. There are lots of things that children can help with during this recipe, like mashing the banana and stirring the mixture.
- 1 overripe banana
- ½ cup raw sugar
- 1 cup wholemeal SR flour
- ½ cup white SR flour
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup milk
- ¼ cup oil
- ½ cup choc chips
Heat oven to 180°C.
In a large bowl mash banana.
Add sugar and sift in flour.
Lightly beat egg in a cup, add to bowl.
Add milk, oil and choc chips.
Mix until just combined.
Spoon into a muffin tray and bake for around 20 minutes.
I hope this inspires you to give cooking with your kids a try!