In chatting with a friend recently, I shared how my nine-year old pretty much has a free rein in the kitchen as long as she cleans up after herself. Some great dialogue followed so I thought I’d condense it here…
When did you start teaching them to cook?
Really young! As soon as they can stand beside you on a chair and help stir in ingredients. What’s really fun, we’ve done this, is to take them to the fabric store and let them each pick out fabric for an apron (aprons are easy to sew). Also nice is to give them their own mini-rolling pin and several shaped cookie cutters. If you’re near an Amish community, find a country store that carries these…there’s one in Jamesport, Missouri that has a wallful of cookie cutter choices, makes great Christmas gifts/stocking stuffers!
- playing in a sinkful of bubbles
- playing with refrigerator magnets
- making domino towers
- playing with a stack of nesting measuring cups
- sitting in the high chair or at the table and making their own creations with play-dough
What can a toddler cook?
A few ideas:
- teach them to “make toast”
- let them help you make fruit salad (Pampered Chef has a child-safe knife perfect for slicing bananas and grapes)
- let them spoon-spread the sauce on homemade pizza…and kids of every age love adding the toppings, especially pepperoni. Better yet, have them make their own individual-sized pizza.
- guide them in pouring, whether it’s macaroni into boiling water, or milk into pancake batter.
- make homemade popsicles together by freezing juice or yogurt (or a combination of the two) in 7 oz paper cups with wooden craft sticks for handles.
- Make lemonade together: slice a lemon, put it in a quart jar with water and a bit of sugar and have toddler shake it up!
Toddlers love to set the table.
My almost three year old loves counting out five forks, etc. and placing them at their places on the table each night (sometimes upside-down). She’s an old hand at putting napkins out too. These are “her” jobs. My other girls like to fold the napkins “fancy” and keep the vase full of fresh flowers (if we have them). Now if only clearing the table off (of crafts, schoolwork, etc) was as much fun.
As they get around 4-5 years old, play around:
- funnels are fun! Measure how many cups of water fit in a 2 liter bottle. Count them out.
- blindfold them and have them use their 5 senses to determine ingredients. Tasting and sight must come last!
Breads and desserts are the best!
- Make bagels together. This was my favorite bread to bake as a pre-teen because you boil the dough before you bake it! And it’s delicious…just make sure you have some yummy toppings (like flavored cream cheese) on hand!
- Make pretzels. Shape them in the alphabet letters of your child’s name. Or into numbers.
- Make coffee cake, kolaches, blueberry buckle ring, cookies, donuts
If you don’t have kids yet, grab a niece or nephew or one from church and make some memories. And be sure to date and rate the recipe and the occasion in your cookbook. Years from now it will bring a rush of memories…