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Educational Toddler Activities: Let Them Help in The Kitchen

Updated on September 10, 2012

Toddlers helping in the kitchen can be a fun experience for both of you.

Let's bake something!
Let's bake something! | Source

Teaching Moments

For a toddler, everything is a learning experience. Their eyes are constantly watching and their brain is constantly processing new information. Even play becomes a learning opportunity. You don't have to have a formal sit-down time with your toddler to teach them something; you can utilize any moment in the day.

One of my daughter's favorite things to do is help me in the kitchen. While she's only two, I have found ways to let her help that teach her valuable skills and lessons she can use outside the kitchen.

Learn Math Skills In The Kitchen

Whenever I bake, I let her help me measure and count. If a recipe calls for three eggs, she helps me count out three eggs. If I need a half-cup of sugar, she watches me measure it and then I let her dump it in.

Cooking is full of math and some of it she will not learn right now, but will master when she's older. Here are some ways to help you incorporate math into your cooking time:

  • Let them set the timer for the baking time.
  • Let them count items to go into the batter.
  • Help them measure ingredients in a cup. Use a full cup and show them the marks for half, a fourth, etc.
  • Teach them about degrees on an oven. Be careful to keep them away from any hot elements.
  • Help them learn to add when you double a recipe. They can also learn to subtract when you take out items from a group.

Not all skills will be learned at once; you will have to choose age-appropriate learning and tasks.

Learn Teamwork in The Kitchen

Another important lesson toddlers will learn by helping you in the kitchen is how to work as a team. You pour the ingredients; they stir. They hand you the tools; you use them. This will help prepare them for working with others in school and in life. Of course, you will also have to deal with the meltdowns when you tell them they can't do something. But even this is a valuable lesson for them in the future when they learn that not everything goes the way they want it to.


Learn Responsibility in The Kitchen

Toddlers can also learn how to be responsible from working with you in the kitchen. They can be given simple tasks that they are expected to complete such as wiping off the counter when you're done cooking.

The kitchen is also a great area to begin giving them their own chores. Even a two-year-old can set the silverware on the table, and then progress to the rest of the dishes as they get older.

They can help load the dishwasher, starting with silverware and progressing on to other dishes. They can also learn to help put away dishes and clean off counters.

Another way they will learn responsibility is by finishing what they start. You can't put a dish in the oven and then forget about it. A few burned meals will cure that habit. If they start a recipe, they will learn that they have to finish it. This is an important lesson for life in general.

Learn Nutrition in the Kitchen

One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is how to prepare healthy, tasty meals. They will learn this best by watching you and helping. You can explain the different food groups and why we eat more of this and less of that.

Your toddler will also be more likely to eat something they help make. Their sense of accomplishment at creating something will give them ownership of the food and they will want to eat it since it's "theirs."

A Golden Opportunity

The most important thing your toddler will get out of helping in the kitchen is time spent with you. This togetherness will make a lasting impression on them for the future. How many memories do you have of sitting in the kitchen telling your own mother about your day while she fixed dinner.

Experts talk about the importance of family dinners and how they make a difference in our children's lives. Spending time preparing the meal together is also a great way to make memories with our kids. I know those memories are important to me as a daughter who's mother has passed away, and they are important as a mom to my own child.

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    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 

      6 years ago

      Great article. The kitchen is a fabulous place for children to learn. You hit on all the highlights and benefits for learning. Thank you for sharing. Voted up for useful.

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