Counting is something adults often do without thinking about it. For example, you might silently count out the number of ingredients you need for a recipe. But your child needs lots of practice with counting — it's how he develops a concept of number. For this salad, invite him to count out loud with you all the ingredients you'll need. For fun and learning, line up the salad ingredients along the kitchen counter to create a veggie number line!
What you need:
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 2 red or green peppers, sliced or chopped
- 3 carrots, grated
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- 7 cubes of cheese (your child's choice)
- 8 pea pods, shelled
- 9 croutons
- 10 romaine lettuce leaves, torn
- your family's favorite salad dressing
What to do:
- Invite your child to help you count out the salad ingredients from 1 to 10. If you have the space, ask him to line them up from left to right across your table or countertop. Introduce numerals by writing the numbers 1–10 on paper scraps. He can place the appropriate number with each item in the salad number line.
- Prepare the vegetables together, starting with the first item in the line. Your child can carefully help you peel the cucumber and slice it with a plastic serrated knife.
- Follow the line with all the vegetables and other ingredients, inviting him to help wash, slice, or tear whenever possible.
- Extend the math learning by asking him to estimate how many peas he thinks are inside the pea pods. Count together to see how accurate his guess is. Shelling peas is also great for small muscle building.
- Challenge him to tear the lettuce into a particular number of pieces. You might say, "Can you rip this one leaf into three pieces?" Add your favorite dressing and serve.