Cooking with kids and having them help with jobs in the kitchen from an early age has many benefits that far outweigh any potential mess. It does require lots of patience on your part, but it will all be worth it (we promise) when they are competently cooking dinner for you in later years! These useful kids cooking skills that are easily mastered by preschoolers are a good starting point for your little chef’s career in the kitchen.
Cooking with kids helps them learn simple maths and problem solving, improves their fine motor skills and muscle control, helps them gain confidence and independence and will hopefully foster a lifelong love of cooking and healthy eating. Best of all, it’s fun!
Kids Cooking Skills for Young Children
Get your little one to help you with washing vegetables and fruit. It helps them to learn the names of different foods and teaches basic hygiene skills. Don’t forget about the washing up!
When all the fun stuff is over, fill up the sink, and let them wash some of the non-breakable items. This activity helps with their language skills as they learn the names of ingredients.
Fruit like bananas can be mashed easily with a fork for recipes like banana bread. For slightly older children they could mash vegetables using a potato masher. This will help develop their small muscle control and improve hand eye co-ordination.
Let your little one help you to spoon ingredients into the mixing bowl, sieve or onto the weighing scales. This helps develop fine motor skills and teaches basic maths as they may need to count how many spoons to add.
Once your dough is ready for kneading let your little one sprinkle their flour and get their hands on it. You will need to step in at the end to finish off the task but they will have lots of fun kneading and pulling. This helps develop their muscle control.
Give them a wooden spoon to help stir cool ingredients such as cake mix. This will teach them to be gentle as stirring too vigorously will result in spills.
Balance the sieve over the mixing bowl and let them spoon the dry ingredients in. Teach them to gently shake or tap the sieve to help the mixture go through the holes. Get your child to count the amount of spoons needed to fill the sieve to help with basic maths.
Even if you have to adjust afterwards, let your little one help to spoon ingredients onto the scales until they reach the correct weight. This activity helps with cognitive development as they learn to problem solve and make predictions.
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Your little one can help spread icing on cakes and buns or sauce on savoury dishes. They could create a simple sandwich once they have mastered spreading butter on bread. This exercise equips them to be more independent and confident.
My little ones favourite bit of any recipe! Let your child sprinkle raisins into doughs, flour onto your surface before you roll out dough, cheese onto pizza and lasagne or add cake decorations onto your finished cookies, buns or cakes. This teaches many skills including maths and fine motor skills,
If you are cooking meat such as chops or chicken let your little one use a meat tenderiser to bash it out for you. Cover it with cling film first and make sure they wash their hands well when they have finished. If you are creating a biscuit base, add the biscuits to a food bag, seal it and let them bash with a rolling pin. This teaches them about hygiene.
Keep sharp knives out of reach but soft fruit like strawberries can be chopped using a blunt knife. Plastic cookie cutters can be used on most doughs to create fun shapes. This helps develop fine motor skills.
Get a small rolling pin for your little one and let them roll out pastry or use it to bash biscuits! Once rolled they can shape the dough and create goodies for everyone.
Follow basic kitchen safety and keep hot liquids and ingredients away from your little one. Remember mess can be cleaned up and the most important thing is to have fun!