Do you cook with your kids? It is not as time consuming as it might seem. In fact, you may be amazed at how many things your child can do to help you with a recipe. From stirring to shredding, there are many kitchen activities your child will enjoy. Best of all, basic science, math, and literacy skills can be practiced in a joint cooking project.
The recipes you choose don’t have to be kid-centric. A first step to involving your child is to have him help prepare whatever you happen to be cooking. Look for a simple task your child can do.
Cooking Is Science
Your child learns many skills by following directions, working with raw ingredients, and making predictions and observations. Science is the study of change. Cooking is a wonderful hands-on experience of creating and watching change. Every recipe is an experiment!
When you think about it, the process of following a recipe has the same steps as the scientific method:
The first step in cooking science is observation. Ask your child to look at ingredients before you use them. What does she notice? Which ingredients are powdery, soft, or liquid? How are they different? How are they the same?
The second step is making predictions. Invite your child to predict how dry ingredients will change when liquid is added. Ask him to guess what will happen to your mixture each time an ingredient is added: “How will the hot water change when we add the dry flour?”
The third step is experimentation. If you have the time and the ingredients, allow your child to try mixing and matching components. Or use a recipe that lists optional additions.
The fourth step is evaluation. This is the fun part; you get to stand back and admire your culinary masterpiece. Compare the end result with the beginning ingredients. You might ask, “Can you see the powdered ingredients now? How have they changed? What happened to the fruits when you blended them together? Where did the blueberries go?”
Cooking Is Math
For many recipes, your child needs to count and measure ingredients, make estimations, and create mathematical patterns. Ask him to count how many times he stirs the batter, to match the correct number of fruits to the numeral in the ingredient list, or to create a repeating pattern with toppings on a homemade pizza.
Cooking Is Literacy
The ability to follow the steps in a recipe is a basic literacy skill called sequencing. It helps your child learn to follow the order of events in a story. Some kids will be able to read the numbers and a few words in a recipe. Be sure to show your child the recipe while you are cooking.