Looking back on when I was reading pictures books in elementary school, the stories that I remember still with the greatest clarity were the stories about food. Perhaps it was the nagging dissatisfaction of never really knowing what Patricia Polacco’s Thunder Cake tasted like, or just how fragrant and fluffy was the loaf of bread was in The Little Red Hen? I still wonder if the soup in Stone Soup had any hints of an earthy dirt flavor, or if Strega Nona’s pasta flowed from the magic pot already pre-seasoned?
I can only imagine the richness and depth that cooking and baking the things from the stories would have brought to the experience of reading them or being read to. It builds on the anticipation of imagination and brings the story to life with an explosion of sensory input. What an adventure!
To get you and your kiddos started, I’ve provided a quick summary of helpful tips from BBC Good Food. You can find the original link here: BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food
Cooking and baking are learning opportunities for children regarding food hygiene, math, recognizing ingredients and their origin, recognizing kitchen equipment and learning how to use it, reading and following recipes, following instructions, learn different tastes, textures, counting and keeping time and practicing patience, the science of cooking when you apply heat or cold to food, and dexterity and fine motor skills and coordination in carrying or pouring without spilling, weighing, opening containers and packets.
All kiddos should cook with supervision not just to get direction on what to do and how to do them, but also to avoid accidents in the kitchen, get prompt medical attention for cuts and burns, and learn how to use tools properly and the dangers involved in not doing so.
Here are some of the skills that kiddos can learn based on their age. Every child will vary in their ability to take on various cooking tasks, but this can serve as a general guideline:
Cooking with kids under 3 year old
Kiddos can wash vegetables, stir ingredients, mash with a fork, sprinkle things.
Cooking with 3-5 year olds
Kiddos can pour or spoon ingredients, wash fruit and vegetables, cut soft ingredients, mixing, breading and flouring, tearing and crushing, sieving, kneading, using a pestle and mortar, rolling, shaping, and cutting dough, spreading, podding, picking and hulling.
Cooking with 5-7 year olds
Kiddos can work with small knives, scissors, grating, measuring, rubbing in flour and butter together, beating and folding, greasing and lining a cake tin or tray, peel oranges or hard boiled eggs, and setting the table.
Cooking with 8-11 year olds
Kiddos can help plan the family meal, follow a simple recipe, find ingredients in the cupboard or fridge, use a peeler, whisking, using oven and microwaves, making salads, and opening cans.
Cooking with kids 12 and older
Tweens and teens can prepare more complex recipes like omelette and pies and can start improvising.
Here is an additional link with some other resources regarding cooking with kids: KidsHealth
I hope this was helpful – Have fun!