Some of my most cherished memories from childhood include holiday baking and decorating cookies with my grandmother and cousins. The kitchen has always been the hub or the heart of the home in my family. So, it was only natural that I became curious about the flurry of culinary activity that unfolded in that particular room daily.
For my daughter, the story is pretty much the same; and nowadays I get to enjoy the wonders of what goes on in the kitchen through her eyes. And, I always look for the chance to fuel her curiosity by making meal preparation a fun learning opportunity. Here are some safe and exciting ways to introduce children to meal preparation:
1. Discuss where food comes from and how ingredients are combined together to create a delicious, healthy meal.
2. Explore age-appropriate activities in the kitchen:
A. Rinse/wash and dry vegetable or fruits
B. Peel fruits such as oranges, bananas
C. Arrange place settings
D. Measure dry ingredients (my daughter loves to use these flower-shaped measuring cups!)
E. Make sandwiches and salads together
F. Use an egg beater or whisk
G. Assemble ingredients
H. “Read” cookbook
I. Transfer liquid from measuring cup into measuring bowls- brightly colored bowls make cooking fun for kids
J. Scoop or spoon food onto plates
3. Measuring is a fantastic way to develop early math skills.
4. Scooping and spooning are excellent small muscle development, which is important for pre-writing skills.
5. Embrace the “I Do It” toddler stage, by incorporating children into meal preparation. You can shape healthy eating habits and develop a strong sense of meaningful contribution to the household. Children love to establish their independence and worth.
6. Dress the part- cooking is always more fun with an apron and chef’s hat.
7. Check out local cooking classes in your area- many community colleges and culinary schools offer family classes or children’s camps for free!
Keeping those little hands safe while they work is important!
Most appliance manufacturers have made significant strides in developing child-friendly safety features including: double-walled glass doors on ovens, anti-tip brackets, child-lock and cool-touch surfaces on glass cooktops.
When my daughter was three, her little fingers managed to wrap over the top of the cooking guard I’d installed. She touched the cooktop surface, burning her sweet little fingers.
If you are a mom, you know (and have likely had the unfortunate experience of knowing yourself) just how quickly this horrific scene unfolds; it breaks your heart. So after this mishap in the kitchen, it became a priority for me to aggressively seek out an alternative solution.
After researching child-friendly options, I purchased a stainless steel Frigidaire Induction Cooktop. The induction cooktop is designed to transfer heat directly to the cookware surface area.
Because this technology heats only the area covered by the cookware, the remainder of cooktop surface stays cool to the touch. And, having peace of mind is important when you have budding chef in your midst.
Stainless steel surfaces are much more kid-friendly and forgiving of all those precious little fingerprints. The French Door Refrigerator configuration features a middle drawer, which provides easy access of kid-friendly snacks to the “would-be fridge door climbers.”
Decorative rugs with a textured non-skid backing help little ones avoid slips and falls. Mohawk kitchen rugs are washable and durable enough to stand up to your toughest stains and highest traffic areas.
Happy cooking, baking and memory making!
Deonn Baker, guest blogger