COOKING WITH CHILDREN: KIDS
IN THE KITCHEN
Children learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening.
They love to help prepare food and cook because they can use all their
senses. Children like to eat the foods they make. Plan ways the children
in your care can help you. Be sure to consider the age of the child.
Two-year-olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms.
They will enjoy activities such as:
- scrubbing vegetables and fruits
- wiping tables
- dipping vegetables and fruits
- tearing lettuce and salad greens
- breaking bread for stuffing
- snapping fresh beans
Three-year-olds are learning to use
their hands. Try activities such as:
- pouring liquids into a batter
- mixing muffin batter
- shaking a milk drink
- spreading peanut butter on firm bread
(This may be messy!)
- kneading bread dough
Four- and five-year-olds are
learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers. Offer them
experiences such as:
- rolling bananas in cereal for a snack
- juicing oranges, lemons, and limes
- mashing soft fruits and vegetables
- measuring dry and liquid ingredients
- grinding cooked meat for a meat spread
- beating eggs with an eggbeater
IMPORTANT POINTS TO
- Good cooks of all ages always wash their
hands before cooking.
- Tell children to wait until the dish is
done before sampling it. This will help prevent illness.
- Expect spills and messes.
- Children have short attention spans.
Give them quick, simple jobs, and give instructions one at a time.
- Children get excited and forget. Repeat
directions as often as needed.
- Young cooks need constant supervision.
- Give children jobs to help with cleanup.
RECIPES FOR HELPING
ONE-BOWL FRENCH BREAD
Children love to knead and shape dough.
Allow plenty of time for the children to do as many tasks as possible.
3 to 3 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 package dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons soft margarine
1 1/2 cups very hot water (105-1150F)
Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and
undissolved dry yeast in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add margarine. Add
very hot water gradually to dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of
flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in
enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Cover bowl tightly with
Let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes. Stir dough down and turn
out onto heavily floured surface. After washing children's hands, flour
them and have them knead dough until it is smooth. Shape dough into one
large oblong or let the children experiment with different shapes and
sizes. Try pretzels, animals, letters, numbers, or holiday shapes.
Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise (40 to 50 minutes for a large
loaf, less time for small shapes). Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (40
minutes for a large loaf, 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown for small
cooked ground beef, cheese, refried beans and other vegetables for
Give a tortilla to each child. Fill with
cooked ground beef, cheese, and/or vegetables.
1 stalk celery
1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
Have children wash the celery, apple, and
grapes. Children can peel the banana and orange. An adult should cut the
fruit and celery into bite-size pieces. Have children place fruit and
celery in a large bowl. Add yogurt and mix well.
FUNNY, FRUITY PIZZAS
low-fat mozzarella cheese slices (1 slice
English muffins, sliced in half (1 half per child)
fruit (an apple, banana, orange, or seedless grapes)
Have the children wash the fruit. Children
can peel bananas and oranges or pluck grapes from their stems. An adult
should cut the fruit into small pieces.
Split the English muffins. Give each child one half. Have the children
place a slice of cheese on each muffin. Toast the English muffins until
the cheese melts. Have each child top his or her muffin with fruit.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
Van Horn, J. E. (Ed.) and L. Horning (Ed.) (1995). Cooking with children:
kids in the kitchen. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.). *Family child care
connections* 4(6). Urbana, IL: National Network for Child Care at the
University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.