Where the rubber hits the road, this age groups participation in the kitchen really sets the foundation not only for kitchen skills, but spikes an interest in literacy and artistic creativity.
At first you might roll your eyes as you read this intro, but your mini foodies will get curious and ask a lot more questions. What happens to the cupcakes in the oven? How does the eggs and flour mix together like that? Why do ice lollies go into the freezer? All questions are opportunities for them to start learning. Let the little ones get creative by decorating baked creations. In terms of literacy, as you read through a recipe with your child, follow your finger under each word, this helps them learn how to follow words from left to right, while beginning to distinguish numbers from letters. A is for apple and B is for banana, don’t miss out on any of the learning chances.
Work with your mini foodies to figure out what they are most interested in doing from the list of skills they have learnt. Focus on things they can accomplish on their own, with minimal intervention from you. This is a great age to focus on independence while still doing many of the same tasks in the kitchen. Motor skills are becoming more defined, and you will find that your mini foodie can focus better, this is why assembly tasks are great to bring in at this age. Making milkshakes or smoothies, sandwiches or even salads are a fun and rewarding activity for this age. It’s not surprising that studies have revealed that mini foodies are more likely to try new foods, when they are in the kitchen helping to prepare them.
In addition to the skills learnt for the under 3’s here are a few more to add to the repertoire –
- Pouring or spooning ingredients onto scales
- Cutting soft ingredients like butter, mushrooms, strawberries using a plastic knife – we suggest under strict adult supervision
- Breading and flouring fish fingers – you can set up three stations with flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs
- Mixing ingredients together using either a spoon or hands
- Sieving – it’s best to balance the sieve over a bowl and tap rather than shaking it around!
- Kneading – light kneading can be fun but you’ll need to step in to complete the task
- Rolling, shaping and cutting dough – choose plastic cutters and a small rolling pin
- Spreading – buttering bread and spreading icing
- Using a pestle and mortar
- Podding broad beans
- Picking herbs, tomatoes or grapes off the vine
- Hulling strawberries
- Greasing pans – with adult supervision
- Smashing biscuits for crusts
- Stacking and assembling their own sandwiches
- Setting the table
- Putting away pots and pans from the dishwasher or drying rack
Some of these new skills can get very messy and even though one of the kitchen rules is to clean as you go, you should have paper towels and sponges close by. For some tasks you may even want to consider putting newspaper on the counter tops and floor for an easy clean up.
Lastly a tip to save you from constant nagging. If you are using a recipe which requires extended time to cook, prove, bake or freeze make sure the mini foodies know this at the start. They are at an age where delayed gratification can be like torture. If they need a quick fix, choose a quick recipe to save you all from going mad.
Keep an eye open for your mini foodies sense of pride and accomplishment after each meal, it is an exciting age for them in the kitchen. Pile on the positive reinforcement after each completed task.
We have put together a fun vanilla cupcake recipe for our mini foodies to put some of their new skills to the test. Let’s get Cookin with confidence!