Believe it or not, the kitchen is one of the most social rooms in the house. How many gatherings at a friend or family member’s home have you been to where everyone congregates around an island or counter top area? We spend so much time preparing food in our lifetimes, that getting your children involved in the cooking and baking process will not only increase your “Q-time” together, but it’s a ton of fun!
Children love helping mom and dad, so don’t underestimate your Two year old or even your 18 month old. If they have the skills to walk and talk, they can start participating in the Joys of Cooking with some of these 10 tasks below.
Warning: Cooking Times may Increase and Patience is always the first ingredient in the recipe.
1. GATHERING – Your little one will need help reaching into the cabinets and pantry shelves. Start by helping your child identify ingredients like flour and sugar or bell peppers and mushrooms. Using colors and shapes will be fun and educational. Plus, this allows your child to succeed in task #10 on our list later on. Don’t forget to also explain the kitchen utensils you are using as well.
2. RINSING – Just as they wash their hands, vegetables and fruit need to be cleaned too.
3. CUTTING – Using a smooth butter knife or even plastic butter knife, children can cut things like soft fruit (bananas and strawberries), canned vegetables like green beans or olives, and portioning the butter and cream cheese. When baking cookies, they absolutely love and can use the cookie cutter to make their shapes.
4. MEASURING – In addition to being fun, this will also be a learning opportunity. Different sized measuring cups and different ingredients will have your child engaged every time.
5. POURING – Now that we’ve got those ingredients measured out, we need to add them. Even tasks like cracking eggs, once your child learns how, are exciting to them.
6. MIXING - You’ve got everything in one bowl, now it’s time to mix it all together. You can only imagine the joys of watching how the different ingredients change as they blend together.
7. ROLLING DOUGH – This task can start with something as simple as rolling dough for cookies and then progressing into using the rolling pin for pizza. Either way, this is like real life play-doh and a guaranteed child pleaser.
8. SPREADING – This will not apply to many recipes per say, but if there are kids in the house then there are many sandwiches being made. Whether it’s jelly on toast, peanut butter on celery sticks, mustard on daddy’s sandwich or hummus in a wrap – this is a job your little one would love to take on.
9. DECORATING – Of course those sugar cookies may not come out as perfect and brilliant as you would have done them, but they all end up in the same place and your child will love preparing, baking AND designing their very own culinary creations.
10. CLEANING UP – They may need help remembering where everything goes, but they will catch on after awhile. Plus, it’s nice to have someone to help tidy up after dinner.
If your fun activity of cooking in the kitchen together should start to take a turn for the worse with your very independent toddler, then give them an easy job like setting the table. The table and helping put things away are always a great distraction from a possible mishap with the oven or stove!