Children often enjoy the chance to help prepare meals, but kitchens can be a dangerous environment with hot temperatures during cooking and sharp edges on knives and blender blades. However, with some planning, you can involve kindergarten-aged children in food preparation. Here are some tips to get the kids in the kitchen in a safe way that teaches them more about nutrition and food preparation.
If you grow your own produce on site, you can get the kids to help pick produce and choose what will go into each meal. This can help them to connect the growing process with their meals and can encourage them to be more enthusiastic about the fruit and vegetables that they have chosen. This can teach them about nutrition and can be woven into science themes around the way that plants grow, where children observe the progress of the plants as they grow through artwork and journaling.
If you cannot grow produce on site due to space constraints, you can organise an excursion to the market or store so that they can help you choose the freshest and most interesting looking produce.
Tearing and rough chopping of salads
Salads don't need to be prepared with any precision, so you can get the children involved in chopping medium density vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes with plastic knives as well as tearing herbs and salad leaves with their hands. Children often enjoy this process as it doesn't require much precision! Try practising the names of each salad leaf as you add it and working on descriptive language to tell the items apart to make it a more educational experience.
Mixing and stirring
Many desserts can be made in a 'no-cook' manner where they are mixed and stirred, then set in the fridge. These can be great fun to make with kindy-aged children as they don't require knives or hot surfaces. The process of following the recipe and measuring out the ingredients can be a good way to emphasise maths and spatial reasoning, which are important pre-numeracy skills.
Mixing and stirring can also be a fun and easy way to build arm strength and gross motor skills.
One of the best aspects of cooking with children is seeing the pride and accomplishment when they get to eat their delicious creations. By creating their own meals, they get to learn as well as create delicious meals!