Have you ever tried cooking with the children in your speech sessions, classroom, or at home? I know, cooking with kiddos can sound a little scary (and messy) but when done intentionally and with the right recipes, it's a total game-changer. Intrigued? Today I'm covering 5 reasons why you should be cooking with kids! Let's chat about all the details and how to get started!
If you've been around here a while, you probably already know how much I LOVE cooking with kiddos. There are so many benefits to cooking with kids such as supporting speech and language skills, promoting independence, and more! Today, we're taking a deep dive into the top reasons why I think you should incorporate cooking into your sessions and lessons. Cooking will open the doors to SO much learning and I promise it doesn't have to be difficult. Ready to hear all the details? Let's go!
1. Teach Life Skills with Cooking
First up, let's talk life skills. Cooking activities are a valuable opportunity to help children learn important life skills such as measuring, counting, following directions, problem-solving, and time management. These skills are vital for future success and cooking makes them fun and easy to illustrate!
When cooking with a group of kiddos, I like to assign specific tasks to each one. Taking turns like this allows all the children in our group to participate in some way and practice a specific skill. For example, you could have each child help with a specific step, or ask kiddos to "stir 5 times and then pass to the next friend".
This will allow each of the kiddos in your group to have a turn with different steps in your recipe. Be sure to spend some time talking through each step too! This will help your kiddos understand why we measure, count out ingredients, and use different prep methods for different recipes!
2. Cooking Activities are Functional
Cooking activities are FUNCTIONAL and allow for many opportunities for language development.
If you're an SLP, early education teacher, or a parent of littles, this is a HUGE benefit! When it comes to getting the most out of your cooking activities, there are a few tips I recommend to target communication skills specifically. These include encouraging communication, repeating words throughout the lesson, modeling words and phrases, and more.
An important thing to keep in mind beyond these tips is to use materials that will offer the most opportunities to expand vocabulary. In my Visual Recipe Cards for Kids, you'll find full-color vocabulary cards detailing the tools and ingredients used. Taking the time to run through each of these will help provide opportunities to expand vocabulary and language skills.
My Visual Recipe Cards for Kids also use visuals on the step-by-step instruction cards. Pointing to these pictures as you work through the cards is a great way to prompt "reading" among your students and verbalize what they see. Using kid-friendly recipe cards and visual supports is such a wonderful way to ensure that you're getting the most out of every cooking lesson.
3. Cooking Teaches About Nutrition
Next up, cooking activities teach kids about nutrition and eating healthy.
When you're asking children to help lend a hand in the preparation of new foods, it sparks their interest. If you're working with picky eaters, this is invaluable! Kids are much more likely to eat healthy foods if they have a hand in preparing them!
In my Visual Recipe Cards for Kids, there's a whole category of recipes dedicated to fruits and vegetables. With fun recipes like Green Bean Fries, Blender Applesauce, and Yogurt Ranch Dip, healthy eating becomes exciting and fun for kiddos!
Set the stage for healthy eating before your lesson by discussing fruits and vegetables the children in your group have tried. Talk about their favorites, what types of preparation methods they've had before, and maybe even introduce some new ones. If you're cooking at home with your own kiddos, this process can even start in the grocery store when you shop for your recipe!
4. Cooking Helps Build Self-Esteem
Have you ever seen the look of accomplishment on a child's face when they do something new on their own?
This might be my favorite reason to start cooking with kids!
Every time you use a recipe or cooking lesson with your children, you provide an opportunity for them to feel accomplished!
Because of this, cooking activities can help kids build their self-esteem. Kids feel proud and accomplished when they create something all on their own and I just LOVE to see the look of pride on their faces.
I like to further help reinforce opportunities for building self-esteem throughout the cooking lesson by encouraging independence. Prompt children to guess what step comes next, what ingredients will be used for, and how the preparation might look. Asking kiddos to think critically and problem-solve helps to foster independence. Doing so will continue to build opportunities to build positive self-esteem over and over in a fun way.
5. Cooking Helps Develop Creativity
Finally, this last reason to start cooking with kids is a fun one!
Cooking with kids helps develop creativity. Kids can experiment with ingredients and discover new recipes.
Plus, if you're structuring your cooking lessons to be child-led, you can count on your kiddos to come up with some fun ideas to make things their own.
Cooking with kids also exposes them to new foods and ingredients and find new ways to work with them.
After your cooking lesson is done, ask children questions about what they liked, and didn't like and how they could use ingredients for other recipes.
These simple questions encourage communication as well as get the wheels turning and offer creative outlets.
Tips for Cooking with Kids
I hope these five reasons to cook with kids have inspired you to get started or add MORE cooking lessons to your speech sessions and classrooms (or at home with your own kiddos)! If you're still feeling a little nervous or unsure how to start, be sure to check out this post with some basic tips to help you get started! Here are some things to keep in mind...
- prep your cooking activities ahead of time
- gather tools and ingredients
- choose kid-friendly recipes
- think about the skills you're looking to target
- don't forget to have fun!
Keeping these simple tips and tricks in mind throughout your lesson will help ensure your students get the most out of your lesson, while still having TONS of fun!
Getting Started With Cooking
Ready to dive in? I've got a FREEBIE that's perfect for little chefs! Grab this S'mores on a Stick Visual Recipe to check out how Visual Recipes work. All of my recipes, including this one, come with vocabulary cards, comprehension questions, and a full-color, step-by-step recipe card. These tools make facilitating cooking lessons simple and fun, while also helping you to target speech and language skills.
Plus this freebie is a "no-cook" recipe, which means all you need is a microwave, making it easy to use in a classroom, speech room, or home kitchen!
And if you haven't already, be sure to check out some of my other cooking resources...
- Visual Recipe Cards for Kids: physical recipe cards that are designed for cooking with kids. They will take your cooking lessons to a new level!
- Digital Craft and Cooking Resource: a digital download filled with 50, seasonal recipes that are perfect for little learners as well
- Digital Craft and Cooking Resource Volume 2: a digital download filled with 30 more fun recipes for shakes, doughs, and snacks!
Any of these resources are a great place to start if you're looking to try some hands-on cooking lessons with the kids in your life!
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