The kitchen is a terrific place to bond with children. Whether you’re planning to rustle up breakfast, or decorating cookies, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 super suggestions for making cooking with the kids fun for everyone!
1. Safety First- Kids need to understand the importance of safety. Teach young children to stay away from the hot stove, sharp knives, and other kitchen dangers. Every child loves to pour the milk and add the flour, so take a couple extra seconds to turn off the mixer and let them! Even better, do the mixing by hand when you can! That leads right into…
2. Cootie Protection- Good hygiene is an essential kitchen lesson to teach your kids. Make sure they understand the importance of washing their hands often, sneezing away from food, and to use clean dish cloths and cutting surfaces to avoid cross contamination. If you do it they will too!
3. The Simpler the Better- Kids love to dig in with both hands. Choose recipes that are easy, hand formed cookies are a fun start that keeps them involved.
4. Don’t Watch the Clock- If the recipe says it takes 20 minutes to prepare count on 40 with kids in the kitchen. Plan accordingly and keep it fun. You and your child will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not in a hurry, and the extra time is well spent when you consider those priceless memories and life skills!
5. Relax and have fun- There WILL BE funny shaped cakes, maybe a few egg shells in the batter. Take it all to heart and give praise often, even if it’s not perfect. This is a great time to share your own memories or even a baking secret. Shhhhhh!
6. It’s Not Just About Cooking - The kitchen makes a fantastic classroom for kids. Learning to read and follow written directions is a very important lesson. Take advantage of showing them how fractions work in a recipe, how many minutes are in an hour when baking a cake, or the science in making a soufflé rise, the educational opportunities are endless.
7. Why? – We all know that’s a child’s favorite question. Even if they don’t ask it you can provide all kinds of useful information. Explain why you need yeast in the bread, how baking soda works in cakes and cookies, and the differences between similar items like granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar. Give them an opportunity to see, touch, and smell all the ingredients you are using in the recipe.
8. Food Safety - It’s important to teach kids how to care for food. Make kids aware of the bacteria that can live in food if not treated properly. Remind them that hot food should be kept hot (over 140°F) and cold food cold (under 40°F).
9. It’s OK to Use a Mix – The attention span of small children can be short to say the least. Using a mix can take less time, leave less room for error, and create less of a mess. Yes, this is one of those times where less can be more! Keep mixes handy for when time is of the essence. So what if it’s not made from scratch – it was still time well spent!
10. Clean Up - Teach children that cleaning up is all part of the process. Do it as you go to keep a safe and sanitary cooking area. Remind them that no good chef leaves the kitchen until it’s clean.
We hope these helpful tips provide you the recipe for successful kitchen time with the little ones near and dear to you!
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Chef Gayle “Gigi” Gaggero is co-owner of Kids Culinary Adventures (KCA). This exciting cooking school is where math, science, reading, and art mix with kids. KCA is proud to serve as the Bay Area’s premier professional cooking school for children and teens. KCA boasts a broad spectrum of offerings ranging from one-day classes to a professional culinary certification program. KCA also mixes up a great time for seasonal camps, birthday parties, special events, and field trips. For more information
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