I know there are a hundred articles about cooking with your kids, but I figured I'd put a sensory spin on this one. From homemade pretzels to fruit smoothies, my kids love to cook. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in the kitchen.
LOOK THE PART:
Besides having fun playing dress up, giving LM an apron and chef's hat transitions him into this activity. I remind him that now that he's "Chef LM" he needs to have quiet hands and wait his turn. I bought a kid's sized apron, but we make a new hat every few weeks. Easy to do and gets some fine motor cutting and stapling activities in too.
1. Cut a piece of white poster board 4 inches wide and measure length to child's head.
2. Staple ends closed to form a crown.
3. Take white tissue paper, fold a few times to give it strength and attach to the inside of the crown to make a tall column.
Think about your favorite cooking show where they have all the ingredients set out in small dishes. You can talk about the recipe and count ingredients or work on sequencing (first crack the eggs, then pour the water). Let your kids help with this part. Set out the bowls and help them use measuring cups and spoons. Kids can crack eggs into a small bowl (and you can pick out the shells LOL), or grease a baking sheet. If you have more than one child this is great for turn taking as well. Each chef gets assigned an ingredient to prep and then add to the dish.
COOK WITH ALL YOUR SENSES:
Use this opportunity to discover all your senses. Describe the food ... it's color, it's shape. How does it smell? What does it feel like ... wet, bumpy, sticky? What do you hear ... an egg cracking, a timer ticking, water boiling? And best of all, how does it taste?
DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET A LITTLE MESSY:
Let the kids get their (clean) hands into the food. Who needs Play-Dough when you have the real thing? Let the kids explore what different ingredients feel like. Let them stir and pour, and try not to worry about a few spills.
IT'S THE PROCESS NOT THE PRODUCT:
In other words, the food doesn't have to be gourmet. While this is a great way to introduce your child to new foods (they'll like it more if they helped make it!) "cooking" frozen waffles together is a great activity too. It's about spending time together and experiencing new things.
There are a bunch of great "kid-friendly" recipes. Here's one of our favorites.
2 medium bananas
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup flaked coconut
thin pretzel sticks
1. Peel and slice each banana into 10 slices. Make caterpillar by spreading slices with almond butter and pressing slices back together.
2. Sprinkle half of coconut over each caterpillar and press lightly with fingertips to coat.
3. Attach 2 raisins to one end with a little bit of almond butter to form eyes.
4. Break pretzel sticks into small pieces and press between banana slices for legs and antennae.