Mama G’s Guide to Ensure Cooking Success in the Kitchen with Your Preschoolers
Remember, the attention span of little one’s will vary, often 10 to 15 minutes. Brain development at this age is critical. Always know that this time with them in the kitchen, if even for a few moments, is never wasted.
1. Weighing – pouring or spooning ingredients into scales. Using measuring spoons. This will be wonderful and messy. Encourage “clean as you go skills.” This will take time and patience.
Kids are messy, but only because their fine-motor skills have not developed at this age. But, just know that little genius is taking notes and you will see the fruit of your labor. I cannot stress enough the importance of love and patience.
2. Washing fruit and vegetables. Set a stool at the sink, ensuring a successful easy reach. As they are washing ask them about the aroma of each fruit and vegetable. Talk fruits that offer zest, such as limes and lemons. Slice one open and allow kids to smell and taste. This activity is enormous for sensory development.
3. Cutting soft ingredients using a strong plastic knife. Allow little's to practice, but, the moment frustration begins, pull the activity. You will want them to desire the activity in the future. If kids become too frustrated they will not attempt again. Teach them to preserver in life, but never force them, always encourage. Planting seeds of knowledge. Nothing is ever wasted.
4. Breading and flouring – Set up stations with flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and such. They are never too young to learn about food safety, cross contamination and hand-washing. Always assume they will understand when teaching a skill. Skills will need reinforcement many times, but one day they will master it.
Remember, we want to offer kids' developmental appropriate activities. Kids are amazing and if told they can do anything… they will achieve great success. Discuss goals and find opportunities for them to achieve that success.
A. Brain development example. To create a critical thinking game, spill water, an egg or cereal on the floor. Something that is not a disaster to clean up after. Then ask the kids to think of ways to best clean up this spill. Budding chefs, begin to exude excitement as they embark on this “critical thinking” skill.
Never in a million years would a child, on their own attempt to discover ways to clean a spill. But, when we offer situations for them to use brain power that they didn't even know existed, they leap.The kitchen is the most significant way for them to discover and experience brain power.
5. Mixing – using a spoon or hands to mix ingredients. This is spectacular for discovering food textures. I cannot even being to tell you how many “texture” projects I created for all my students. It develops their senses as well as their culinary repertoire.
Keep a look out as I will post more information on cooking with kids at all ages and skill levels.
With, Love! Mama G