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Kids learn about cooking at an early age by tasting, smelling, seeing, feeling, and hands-on experiences. When you involve school-age kids in meal preparations, it teaches them why it’s essential to follow directions and eat healthily. It can also help build self-confidence and assist picky eaters in overcoming the struggle.
Let them go wild when helping out, even if it’s only by adding a rainbow of color to the pizza by choosing and adding toppings. Older kids can learn how to bag their meals for school or clean up after themselves. Teaching simple math concepts in the kitchen, such as fractions in kid-friendly recipes and measuring ingredients, is a fun way to bond.
Basics in baking
Since recipes explain how much of each ingredient to use, baking is perfect for teaching kids basic units of measure. Explain to them that measurements can directly impact the outcomes of recipes.
- Measuring containers. Explain when to use dry measuring cups (for large amounts of powdered and solid ingredients) and liquid measuring cups (for large amounts of wet ingredients.) Teach them that spoons are for small amounts of solids or liquids.
- Math in the kitchen. Introduce fraction concepts by having your child break the ingredients into 2 and label them as “halves” then into fourths and label them as “quarters.” Serving cups and spoons vary in sizes, so teach them what 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 1 tablespoon, 1/2 teaspoon, and so forth mean.
- Packing ingredients. Brown sugar makes baked goods soft and moist. Since it’s less dense than white sugar, teach kids how to pack it. Spoon the brown sugar into a measuring cup and pack it. When they dump it out, it should retain the shape of the measuring cup.
- Spoon and sweep method. It helps to measure flour correctly. Teach how to use a spoon to fluff up the flour in the bag. Lightly spoon it into a dry measuring cup to the required amount. Then level off the top part of the measuring cup with a flat-edged spatula without packing.
- Mixing ingredients. Let them name the dry ingredients and show them how to mix, then the wet ingredients and how to incorporate them together. Show them how to exercise control by mixing gently, one hand on bowl or pan, and the other does the mixing.
Here’s a kid-friendly recipe to help apply the above techniques.
Simple cake recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1¾ cups brown sugar
- ¾ cup butter substitute with shortening or margarine if you desire
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven at 350°F.
- Mix and bake all the ingredients in one 12 inch pan.
- Beat eggs in the prepared pan, stir in yogurt, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Add dry ingredients to the liquid mix and stir gradually with each addition to combine.
- Use a fork or an electric mixer.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown, or until a fork inserted in center comes out clean.
Kids are easily distracted, so stick to simple yet creative recipes to keep them on task. We hope you’ll enjoy the interactive session and the never-fail delicious result, of course.