First and foremost, this is a blog about food. But, being a mom is inseparable from the rest of me. It’s at the core of my being. It’s part of almost everything I do, including cooking. And it just so happens that I believe that cooking with kids is one of the most fantastic ways to develop early-learning skills. Prior to my life as a stay-at-home mom, I was a teacher. Though I am no longer a teacher by trade, I will always be an educator. As an educator, a mom, and a culinary fanatic, I feel passionately about the many ways that cooking with kids can be learning-rich experiences.
Just a few of the many skills that are developed through cooking:
- Vocabulary Development – names of foods, cooking terms, procedural language
- Following Directions – single and multi-step directions
- Sequencing Skills – following the steps in the directions, retelling the sequence of steps
- Fine Motor Skill Development – stirring, pouring, mashing, cutting soft objects
- Hand-Eye Coordination
- Social Emotional Development – feeling pride and sense of accomplishment, following directions, turn-taking, participation
- Science Knowledge – change of state from liquid to solid, heating and cooling, dissolving
- Math Knowledge – measuring, counting
- Willingness to experiment with new foods – kids may be more open to trying something they had a hand in making
A few tips to help make your cooking experience enjoyable for everyone:
- Give yourself extra time.
- Be prepared for a little extra mess.
- Select tasks which are age-appropriate for your child. (Kids are expert mixers, pourers, and banana-mashers!) Give them tasks to keep them occupied between steps.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare! In the culinary field, one often hears the French phrase, “mise en place”. Essentially, this translates to “everything in its place”. It simply involves the practice of gathering, measuring, and preparing all ingredients prior to beginning the cooking process. This practice is useful for all cooking, but is especially helpful when you’re working with young kids, with short attention spans.
- Don’t forget to model good sanitary practices, such washing hands and using clean utensils. (Keep a few extra spoons nearby so you can quickly replace spoons used for tasting!)
Children learn best when they are engaged in meaningful, hands-on activities. So, next time you’re in the kitchen, grab your kid (or borrow someone else’s) and get cooking!
A few pictures of today’s banana chocolate chip muffin-making event…
And now the recipe. Children welcome, but not required to make!
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. To prepare your muffin pan, use muffin liners, grease and flour, or spray with Baker’s Joy (or a similar product). Pour the batter into prepared muffins tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes about 12-15 muffins.
**This recipe was adapted from a recipe for Banana Bread, found here.