Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kids In The Kitchen

This treasure hangs in our kitchen!

One of my favorite childhood memories is being with my mother or my grandmother in the kitchen. I can still smell the ginger snaps as they cooled, feel the yeast dough between my fingers as I kneaded, hear the beaters against the metal bowl, see the Angel Food Cake inverted on an empty Coke bottle. Those heavenly moments would put me in sensory overdrive every single time!

So we got our children a miniature kitchen with all the dishes and plastic fruit when they were toddlers and we played shopping, bakery and restaurant all the time. We made it a point to get the kids in the real kitchen as soon as they were ready. Before they could actually help, they'd just bang on the pots and pans from the cupboard at my feet. Our daugther would sort the spice bottles by size before she could read, then alphabetically once she learned her letters and sounds manipulating the magnetic alphabet on the refrigerator. 

As soon as they were old enough, they started helping out; my youngest likes cracking the eggs best. Our daughter Kaitlyn learned fractions by my side as we measured ingredients for our favorite recipes. Each of the kids had their own set of measuring cups and spoons, a wooden rolling pin, a spatula and a few other miniature gadgets. Get your little cooks an apron and/or chef's hat for an added touch of fun and authenticity!

Make your kitchen a real-life chemistry laboratory. Find simple recipes that your kids can help you create. Talk with them about how recipes work and what each ingredient does for the finished product. Kids love to be involved in the process; they can gather the items, measure the ingredients, and stir the batter. They can count and sort things as needed. They can press the button for the oven to preheat and they can set the timer for the desired bake or cook time.   

Once your recipe is finished and they've helped with the clean-up process, let them help set the table or serve the delicacy. Children learn by doing; set them up for success by involving them in every facet of the process. Jacob used to love clipping coupons because we'd give him a portion of the money he saved us after every trip to the grocery store.

Our Creamy Banana Pudding would be a great first recipe for your little chefs:

1 large box instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
Mix and shake to make pudding as directed. Kids LOVE this part. Put the mixture in a tightly-sealed Tupperware bowl and let them shake, shake, shake. Refrigerate to set pudding.
3 large bananas, sliced  
These need to be cut so get a plastic knife and teach your little ones how to safely slice soft fruit. If they're too young, they can simply break the banana into bite-sized pieces.
25-30 Nilla Wafers
Use as many as you want, but these need to be crushed. This would be a good time to show them how to use a rolling pin though you could let them crush them with their hands if you (or they) would rather.
1 large tub Cool Whip
Kids LOVE to stir whipping cream, so get a big spoon and watch the fun. Fold the cream into the pudding, then add the banana and cookie pieces. 

For a character twist, fill some disposable individual parfait cups with the pudding to share with your child's teacher as a Teacher Appreciation Week treat! Attach a note that says, "I go bananas for you!"

Just think of all of the vocabulary you can introduce while you're creating that deliciousness. If you want to spice up your cooking lessons by sprinkling in a little character, check out Amy Krause Rosenthal's Cookies series. These sweet morsels are a delectable literary delight. Click here for more yummy Kids in the Kitchen ideas from Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT.

Then come by The Corner on Character for a grown-up treat, my tasty Pork Tenderloin recipe.  Bon Appetit!


  1. My daughter became a chef because she used to enjoy cooking with my Dad and myself when she was young. It's a great expereince for kids!
    Your post reminded me of time cooking with my daughter!

  2. What wonderful memories you have, Barbara ... they're similar to mine! How great that you passed on your experiences to your kids! I pinned your post to my Kids' Food Fun Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-food-fun/


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