Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cooking with Young Children

All young children enjoy cooking. Sometimes they like the product, but even if they don't, they always appreciate the process. It's fun to do something that is a grown-up activity, and discover that kids can do it too! I like to tie cooking projects to other themes that we are working on. E.g. Reading The Gingerbread Man. Cooking with your children teaches them so many valuable skills whilst spending time together.

Cooking teaches children:

1. Following Directions: Teach your child what a recipe is and that one must "follow the directions" in order for the recipe to work. Children learn that you must read directions and follow them in a certain order to get the result you want.
2. Simple Numeracy: Compare amounts. Are we putting in more flour or more baking powder? What is bigger, a half cup or a whole cup? How many half cups do you need to equal a whole cup? Develop his sequencing skills. Ask him, "What do we do first...second...last?"

3. Sensory Awareness: Use ingredients with a variety of textures, smells, and tastes. Let him feel the difference between rice and beans. Let him taste the difference between sugar and salt. Have him smell the differences between various spices and the sweet smell of vanilla.
4. Vocabulary Enrichment: Enhance your child's knowledge of ingredients and items found around your kitchen. Flour, sugar and eggs may seem like everyday words to you, but they are not basic to your three-year-old.

5. Concept Development: Improve your child's understanding of concepts: Hard vs. soft, liquid vs. solid, hot vs. cold, raw vs. baked, in the bowl vs. out of the bowl, fast vs. slow, etc.

6. Cause and Effect Relationships: Increase your child's ability to answer questions like: "What happens if . . . (you add juice instead of water, you use bananas instead of strawberries)?" Children can learn how adding, leaving out or changing one ingredient can change the entire product.

7. Cooperation: Improve your child's ability to work together with you and with other children. This includes waiting for his turn and having fun in a joint activity.

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