The Joy of Cooking With Children
Cooking is a skill for life!
Children love to cook
Cooking with children can be a wonderful and exciting experience (and also a little messy!) so if you are not a seasoned, experienced baker, then this is your opportunity to learn alongside the children! It doesn't really matter what the finished product looks like because all of the fun is in the experience. The more practice you put in, the better your attempt will become.
When I began to bake with my three year old daughter I was terrified of anything made with flour and eggs, convinced that it was going to result in a brick that could be thrown in the dustbin. For this reason we started off with several 'all in the box' cakes, the type that are full of additives and that promise that you "can't get it wrong". However we soon caught the bug and decided to try out the real thing. After a few attempts at these I realised that a bag of flour and some eggs cost a lot less than a ready to mix cake and I began to realise that my daughter was not going to give up baking easily!
We now try to bake once or twice a week together with a 4 year old on one side and a two year old on the other side “helping” me to make scones, brown bread, buns and sometimes even chocolate cake!
Instead of finding baking something to dread, I now heartily enjoy the experience.
Why should I cook with my child?
Cooking with children gives them the opportunity to learn about turn taking, early mathematics, Science, hygiene, safety, and even to develop their motor skills!
I invested in measuring scales with big numbers on it. As I measure out the flour, my 4 year old watches the numbers and tells me when I have reached the correct measurement – 8oz for example. We discuss simple things like more or less as a natural part of the cooking process.
I also invested in colourful measuring spoons so that we can measure the amount of spoons/cups of sugar/soda etc. that are needed. These are attractive and easy for the child to hold. This gives the child the independence to try measuring out recipies for themselves. Many recipies now come with the amount of cups/spoons needed.
An old baby bottle is just the right size for little hands to measure liquid and pour it into the mixture. Most of them carry measurements on the side of the bottle.
I also find cooking with the children is an excellent opportunity to talk to the children about washing their hands, and Safety. When speaking about safety I talk about the danger of the hot oven, sharp knives, and the importance of keeping the kitchen clean at all times.
Talking to the children about what is happening as you mix the ingredients together provides a wonderful opportunity for an impromptu science lesson! Explain how the yeast rising the dough, cooking the bread.
Mixing the ingredients, Kneading the dough and cutting out the scones/biscuites offers the child the opportunity the chance to develop their motorskills and their turn taking skills.
Items To Help You Bake With Children
Help your little ones look the part in this chef costume
Easy to use measuring spoons
Easy to use measuring cups
Top Tips For Baking With Children
- Ensure you have everything you need nearby before you start
- Be prepared for excitment and spllages!
- Wash your children’s hands and prepare surfaces – A heavy duty plastic table cloth saved especially for baking with the children can make cleaning up and moving on to the next activity.
- Make sure that all of the children who are baking or cooking can see what you are doing – work on a low level table if possible
- Ensure that, all children taking part have a turn/ have a job to do
- Make enough to eat some now and send some home for any visiting friends parents. Give the child the opportunity to say “I made this”. (For this reason, i always find that baking is a big hit when my daughter has her little friends over for a playdate!)
- Whatever you decide to make, Make it fun – it’s about the process more than the finished product. It doesn't have to be perfect.