Food and cooking have always been a passion of mine. As a child, I loved baking and helping with meal preparation. As I got older, I became more adventurous in the kitchen and started playing around with my own recipes — with varying results!
My children love to be my kitchen “helpers,” and happily drag a chair or a stool to the counter when I begin pulling things out of the fridge or cupboard. My almost-four-year-old has become more curious about cause and effect, and has even started to create kitchen experiments of his own.
Teaching children how to cook and experiment in the kitchen has widespread benefits. From math and science to problem solving, children are learning skills that will lay the foundation for continued exploration in the future. Here are some of my favorite ways to get children excited about being in the kitchen.
- What happens to food that goes in the trash? Instead of throwing food out, teach them How to Make Compost with this fun activity. Not only will they learn about the benefits of composting, they will also begin to understand the science behind decomposition and how composting can help the environment. While this is geared towards preschool and kindergarten ages, this activity is fun for the whole family.
- Is your child interested in growing plants, and you lack the space or it isn’t quite the season yet? Try the Indoor Gardening with Kitchen Waste activity to use up your kitchen scraps. Your child will delight in growing their own food, and learn how to reduce the amount of waste in the process!
- For the young chefs, teach your child to make Indoor Easy Homemade Yogurt and they’ll become kitchen scientists at the same time. With only a few items needed (nonfat dry milk, yogurt, and a cooking thermometer), you and your child will realize that delicious homemade yogurt is easy to make right at home!
- After making yogurt, play around with another item you can make with milk, by Making Your Own Butter. This is a great project to encourage your child to make predictions about what happens with different types of milk. You can create a chart to track how long it takes for the milk to turn into butter and experiment with different ingredients to make this project one they’ll be begging you to repeat!
- In my house, everyone LOVES to eat meringue cookies. Try the Make Meringue Science activity to learn more about states of matter while creating a delicious delicacy in the process. You’ll only need a few common ingredients and kitchen items to make this tasty scientific experiment right in your own kitchen!
- Everyone loves cupcakes, but most of the time a cupcake for dinner is frowned upon. Use the Bake Healthy Dinner Cupcakes recipe to get your child excited about baking, trying new kinds of food, and they’ll love that they get to eat cupcakes for dinner! This is a great way to get your child active in the kitchen and excited to eat their creations.
- Food isn’t the only thing you can make in the kitchen! My kids loved making their very own Homemade Finger Paint using this easy-to-follow recipe. You’ll explore following a recipe, asking questions, and experimenting with color combinations.
- Take your finger paints and use them to make Art with Household Items in this interesting activity focused on the unconventional use of kitchen tools! Your child will enjoy thinking outside the box as they discover different uses for everyday objects.
- What’s the difference between a solid and a liquid, and why is it important to know? Use the Solids, Liquids, Maple Syrup activity with your child to find out what makes the difference between states of matter, while having a fun (and sticky!) time in the kitchen.
- If your child is anything like mine, they’ll love becoming a scientist as they experiment with Sudsy Lemon Science to find out more about the properties of objects while learning about chemical reactions, physical reactions, and magnetism, all while using items you probably have in your kitchen cupboard!
Spending time in the kitchen preparing food, learning about kitchen safety, and experimenting will give your child an opportunity to use their senses, test their theories, and get excited about the magic that happens in the kitchen every single day.
By Jasmine Gibson, an educational consultant with expertise in early elementary education, supporting teachers, and designing curriculum.