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Cooking with Preschoolers and Elementary Schoolers

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 21, 2010

       Have you tried any cooking experiences with your preschoolers/young children?  Preschoolers love helping in the kitchen, and they learn so much by doing so.  Cooking allows children to feel important, successful, and builds their self-confidence—along with your relationship!  Here is a (partial) list of some of the things preschoolers can learn in the kitchen:

-where things come from/how things are made

-health rules (washing hands, washing dishes, cleaning counters, etc)

-trying new foods (and remember, kids are more apt to try what they’ve made!)

-how to follow instructions

-how to work alongside others (teamwork!)

-math skills (measurement, fractions, addition and subtraction, shapes, etc)

-eye-hand coordination (stirring, rolling, sprinkling, etc)

-safety rules (knives, oven, stove, etc.)

-chemistry (cooking is chemistry!  Mixes, solutions, etc)

And of course:

-the important life skill of cooking itself!

     Make sure to use your cooking experiences as relationship builders.  Have real conversations with your children.  Be willing to take the time to answer their questions.  Cooking time is also an especially good time to talk with your children about the importance of good nutrition, the importance of being willing to try new foods, and where things come from/how things are made.

-Vocabulary to learn:  Recipe, stir, blend, cook, boil, steam (a way to cook) and steam (that comes from hot foods), toast, bake, temperature, knife, fork, spoon, spatula, whisk, tongs, freeze, knead, mash, etc, etc 

-Skills to learn:  How to use utensils (wisk, spatula, spoon, tongs, etc); how to clean the kitchen (preschoolers can learn to wipe the counters, scrub the sink, unload the silverware from the dishwasher, set the table, etc); how to stir foods; how to cut soft items (with a table knife); how to measure wet and dry ingredients, how to use a blender/mixer, and much more. 

-Recipes/ideas to try with your preschoolers:

Cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:  1 package Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (the blue ones that come in tubes in the refrigerator section.)

¾ stick butter

(About) one cup sugar

(About) ¼ cup cinnamon

Pillsbury canned vanilla frosting

 Directions:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Melt butter and let cool.  Spray a 9×9 rectangular pan or a round pan with non-stick spray.  Open the rolls and line up your ingredients (from right to left) in this order:  Biscuits, butter, cinnamon mix, pan.  Once the butter has cooled (just warm, not hot), help your child dip both sides of each biscuit in the butter, then into the cinnamon/sugar mix.  Spoon the mix over the biscuits so that they are totally covered on all sides.  Place the biscuits in the pan (biscuits should touch the edges of the pan, and touch each other.)  Bake until slightly firm but not crispy (7-10 minutes, according to how “done” you like your rolls—we like ours on the gooey side.)  Immediately after removing them from the oven, smoother them in frosting (a job for Mom—they will be hot), then eat. (Double the recipe for larger familes.) 


Make butter:  Buy whipping cream in the dairy section of your grocery store.   Pour the cream into a tight Tupperware or inside a glass jar (leave several inches at the top empty.)  Add a dash of salt.  Shake the jar until the butter thickens.  Eat the butter on bread or crackers.  Be sure to try the buttermilk, too! 

Homemade pizza: (Make on your pizza on Pillsbury Biscuits again, or on top of English muffins.  Each has its own advantages…the biscuits are fun to flatten out, and the muffins are delicious toasted and slightly crispy.)  Just pile on spaghetti sauce, cheese, and the toppings of your choice.  

Fun with Bridgeford Bread:  Buy Bridgeford’s frozen bread; let defrost and rise. Let your children shape the bread into snakes, circles, and so on; bake as usual.  For specific ideas/recipes, see Brideford’s website, HERE.   

     Other things children like to make: Applesauce, sugar cookies (aww, come on…all kinds of cookies–but decorating rolled sugar cookies is especially fun), pudding, pigs in a blanket (kids do the “wrapping”), PB&J’s…see all the fabulous recipes below!

Recipes Designed Just for Cooking with Children:

A good list of what children can do in the kitchen, by age, plus recipes   

Cooking through the year—great ideas by holiday or season

Family Fun’s recipes for kids

Quirky Momma’s Recipes for Preschoolers 

Totally Tot’s Little Books for Little Cooks (read a book and then make a recipe to go with it!  Note:  Just as in art, remember that the process is more important than the looks of the end product, so by all means, let your children be creative!)  

      Have fun in the kitchen, and live the 4R’s!


© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.


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