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1. Let your kids choose a recipeSmarty looked through several of cookbooks for kids from our own collection and from the library and chose Stone Soup from My First Cookbook by Paula Deen
2. Go ShoppingI asked Smarty to check whether we have all the necessary ingredients. It was also a good opportunity to get her more familiar with where we keep things in our kitchen and garage. We didn’t have everything we needed, so she made a shopping list. While we went shopping, she insisted that she absolutely needed a cheap plastic ring from those blasted toy dispensers. She blows all her allowance on these toys.
3. Peel VegetablesPeeling carrots was a great problem solving exercise. Is it easier to peel a carrot holding it vertically or putting it back down on the board as I suggested. Eventually Smarty agreed that peeling carrots when they are not trying to slip from your fingers is easier. Peeling potatoes proved too difficult for her so far.
4. Cut VegetablesMy husband and I disagree a little bit about whether our daughter is ready to use a sharp knife. I do supervise her closely when she uses a knife and I “scaffold” her by first cutting vegetables into smaller pieces. In general, I think that a sharp knife and a firm vegetable, such as a potato, is safer than a bad knife and a soft tomato. You also don’t want to try it if your child is too tired, but Smarty really perked up after munching on some carrots and was very focused while working with a “real knife”
5. Don’t Forget Less Glamorous PartsSmarty is eager to help in the kitchen, but… she conveniently disappears once the “interesting part” is done. We are working on staying on to help with clean up, setting the table, and with making sure that dinner doesn’t burn. I admit that we are not as consistent as we should be with this part.
6. Connect With Your ChildOne good part about cooking together is not just that you put dinner on the table while your child is “attended to”. In fact, joint cooking doesn’t work for me on the nights when I am stressed or in a hurry, because cooking with young children certainly takes more time and requires patience and ability to overlook or quickly correct inevitable mistakes. Cooking together is a bonding time where we can chat, taste some of the ingredients, and work as a team while creating something useful – dinner for our family. Cooking together also helps my picky eater to be a little more adventurous in trying new foods. I won’t claim that it always works, but at least she enjoys the process if not the result.
More Resources About Kids in the Kitchen
- Kids Cooking Camp at Home from Thirty Handmade Days
- Raising Kids Who Can Rock It in the Kitchen from Teach Mama
- Cooking with Kids – Tips, Tricks, and Recipes from Picklebums
- Books to Inspire Cooking with Children from Growing Book by Book
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