I have strong memories of my mother “needing” my help to count or stir things as she baked. She had me move toothpicks from one pile to another to keep track of the number of eggs, cups of flour and so on as “we” baked. Now I know she had me participate for many reasons. I was kept busy, and these activities helped my motor skills, math skills and even my communication skills. As you cook with your child and wait for something to finish baking, enjoy sharing some of these tales of baked goods.
Have a school-age child working on fine motor skills and who loves art? Decorate cakes in an art bakery. Explore fun ways to work on math. Enjoy!
In my household, my husband does all of the cooking, which is awesome. Even better is the fact that he includes my son in the meal-making to teach him the art of cooking. Aware of the kiddo’s budding culinary talents, my in-laws let me know about a simple app called Toca Kitchen (available in the Apple App Store for $1.99). This easy-to-learn game lets you cook things using a variety of techniques, and then try to feed that food to a person or an animal of your choosing. Like a good mom, I read the reviews. While some users wish you could cook more than one ingredient at a time, kids seem to like the simplicity and enjoy learning about chopping, boiling and sautéing, as well as how the different eaters react to different foods. (The eater might gobble up the fish you just microwaved or stick out his tongue in disgust.) Toca Kitchen is a fun way for kids to explore cooking, and it’s a big hit at my house.
If you want some low-tech tools for kids in the kitchen, the library has some great cookbooks available. Try “Mom and Me Cookbook” (or, as it should be called in my house, “Dad and Me Cookbook”) by Annabel Karmel. You’ll find recipes that are fun, simple and unlikely to be rejected by picky eaters. Happy cooking!
Editor’s note: Many children experience the “summer slide,” losing important educational skills during the summer months. Parents can help fight the summer slide by encouraging reading in the summertime.
Do you think the words “fun” and “math” go together? You will when you read “Eat Your Math Homework” by Ann McCallum. You can have fun in the kitchen and explore math concepts at the same time. This book will introduce the whole family to the Fibonacci sequence, fractions, tessellations, tangrams, pi and probability while enjoying fruit, tortilla chips, brownies, pizza and trail mix.
I’m not a big fan of the illustrations in this book, but I enjoyed the explanations of the topics and the recipes. I recommend this for all families with children ages 7 and older.