Cooking with Children, Part 2

“Mommy? Is it time to bake yet? ” My daughter begs with her cutest smile.   I smile back and think about the generations of cooking my family has done together.  I remember cooking with my mom from when I was my daughter’s age and I remember family dinners where my grandmothers slaved away to make us delicious meals.  Cooking together is one of the most age old ways to come together as a family.  It not only grants us quality time with our family but there are valuable lessons in it as well.

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– Cooking together fosters healthy eating habits; almost everything I cook and bake has something green in it. Can you say kale cake? My daughter can!
– When working together both my children and I have learned the art of patience and practice makes perfect. We take turns, focus on one task at a time, and have lots of understanding for spills as long as we are trying our hardest.
– Direction following is a huge part of cooking.  There is a process and we work step by step through it. I often use important trigger words to help (first, next, then, after that, finally)
– Beginning math skills come into play while counting and measuring the ingredient amounts.
– Early literacy skills enable children to look at directions and ‘read’ the pictures (such as the back of the pancake box).
– Cooking enhances kinesthetic learning and hand eye coordination through the act of measuring, pouring, cutting, peeling, rolling, and stirring. It has taken a lot of spilled flour from a too firm stir for my daughter to understand the force needed to stir properly.
– Language development is inherently a part of cooking. We discuss what we are making, the ingredients that go into our recipes, where they come from, why they work together and how they create the food we are making. My mother in law was floored by the fact that my three year old daughter analyzed the food she was eating and could specify that the meatball was a bit too spicy for her taste.

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All these benefits help to develop our children into more reflective and independent thinkers with critical thinking skills to boot! These are all the stepping stones that will enable our children to flourish when they reach school age. Just because cooking does not focus on reading and writing per se does not mean it is not giving our children the tools needed for future success!

In our last post we focused on how to set up your child friendly kitchen and varying tasks children are able to accomplish. Below are some specific child friendly, healthy and fun recipes to try with your children. The great thing about these recipes are that you can improvise on many of the ingredients, and use those you have on hand (I traded peanut butter for hazelnut butter in one recipe!).  These simple and fun recipes will help you and your family be on the way to making cooking together a weekly ritual!
Some fun and healthy recipes to try with your children:

http://www.education.com/activity/article/raisin-numbers/

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/212768/ladybugs-on-a-log/

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a16992/sushi-surprise-recipe-mslo0911/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids/cooking-with-kids.html

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/sweet-pea-lasagna-recipe

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/ham-pineapple-pita-pizzas

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pinto-bean-and-cheese-taco-recipe

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a16944/pita-nachos-recipe-mslo0911/

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a28638/granola-yogurt-parfait-ghk0208/

Cooking with Children, Part 1

Written by Nicole Rowley

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