For all that are new here or a dedicated reader, let me quickly reintroduce myself. I have an unshakable passion for using cooking activities & kid-friendly recipes to support communication skills. My intent is to always bring you a variety of tips, tricks and recipes to help you easily incorporate cooking into your speech sessions and/or your own kitchen.
How often have you had a brilliant idea or vision, but you felt bogged down with the process and steps to execute it? Many can feel overwhelmed with the thoughts of ‘where do I start?’ or ‘how could I possibly make this happen?’ Walt Disney said it best, ‘The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing’. I am thrilled to share with you three perfect tips to get started cooking with your kiddos! I can promise you that you’ll feel a sense of direction on how to turn your vision of “cooking up communication” into a reality after reading below.
Before diving into the 3 tips to getting started cooking, I think we should revisit the 10 Benefits of Using Cooking Activities With Kids from an earlier blog post. Although I am highlighting 10, the possibilities are endless for both YOU and the kids you work with. Here are just some of the benefits I whole-heartedly believe cooking with kids can ignite:
- LANGUAGE SKILLS
- FINE MOTOR
- SENSORY EXPERIENCE
- SOCIAL SKILLS
- COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
- LIFE SKILLS
- MAKING MEMORIES
I have witnessed the magical transformations above while facilitating cooking activities with kiddos (and my own son!), and there is no greater feeling than observing the learning and laughter while cooking with them. It’s time to give you the scoop on three perfect tips to get you started!
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Did you know that a child’s attention span is approximately two to three times their age? For example, a four year old has the ability to stay focused and carry out a task for eight to 12 minutes. LESS IS MORE, especially when you are cooking with kiddos. This is a friendly reminder that no matter how exciting, colorful, and visual your activity is…kiddos need brain breaks and simple steps/ingredients.
A helpful tip is to keep the recipes manageable for both you and the kids by limiting the amount of ingredients used in the recipe being created! Do not let this dull the *sparkle* of your vision; it is imperative to keep the kiddos engaged and excited without being bogged down with too many ingredients.
For all my friends who need a little inspiration, I gotcha covered! I have poured my heart and soul into creating the most INCREDIBLE Visual Recipe Cards for you. These visually appealing, kid-friendly cards are the ultimate resource to eliminate the brainpower you would have used to create recipe(s).
The Visual Recipe Cards contain 48 recipes that make your next cooking activity a piece of cake! These recipes are broken down into FOUR delicious categories that meet the needs of anyone (even those picky eaters).
Eat your Fruits and Vegetables
Let me take the overwhelming task of creating kid-friendly recipes off your plate (all puns intended).
2. LET ‘EM HELP!
As an adult, we have plentiful choices presented to us at any given moment in the day. Whether it is wearing your new blazer or cozy sweater, what size coffee to get at your fave coffee shop, or deciding on takeout or a home cooked meal for dinner… options are abundant.
Kiddos want to be in the decision making! Give them options to let them know their (little but mighty) voice matters. Offering options like, “Would you like to make a snack using a fruit or vegetable”, or “Should we use green or blue sprinkles?”.
Here are three EASY PEASY ways to involve the kiddo(s) with ALL THE THINGS:
- Give them a voice & choice! Let them pick out the recipe they want to create/cook.
- Take them shopping for the ingredients (at the store & in your pantry). This is a golden opportunity to work on language and vocabulary goals (even subconsciously).
- Allow them to set up the ingredients and utensils needed with you! This elevated the hands-on component of your cooking activity by letting them touch, manipulate, and see everything!
Giving kids permission to smell, taste, touch, stir, roll, or cut their ingredients helps them connect to the food(s) and experience in an organic way. Let ‘em help from beginning to end- no matter how messy or chaotic it gets!
3. MAKE IT FUN(ctional)
Stage the scene. Set the vibe. There is simply no better sight than watching a child learn while having fun. Give them an experience they will remember with making it FUN(ctional) and positive. This experience is not meant to be a black and white movie without any noise…Play upbeat music and let the chaos be music to your ears.
Get those kiddos involved with every step…from setting up to cleaning up! This is an opportunity to challenge them to follow directions, ask questions, and explore the utensils/materials they will be working closely with.
Even better than allowing kiddos to help with setting up and cleaning up, encourage involvement with ALL THE THINGS inbetween. Kids learn by doing; therefore, let them measure, stir, mix, combine, and/or pour ingredients. Be sure to ignite the cooking experience by giving the kiddos the chance to taste along the way of your cooking activity. Invest in this opportunity to discuss the different senses that they are experiencing while cooking: taste, smell, touch being a few of the easily targeted ones!
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