TIPS TO INSPIRE LITTLE CHEFS
Children love to be in the kitchen. In many homes it’s the most important room in the whole house or apartment. Why not get the kids involved with cooking at an early age? There are a lot of reasons why this is a good idea.
KEEPING LITTLE HANDS BUSY
Children delight in stirring a pot of soup or sauce. And, decorating cookies and cakes are always popular. Kids are naturally curious about how food is prepared. That’s why getting them interested in cooking at an early age can go a long way in helping them learn basic skills they’ll use all their lives.
And when they get older, they’ll be able to make cookies using Grandma’s secret chocolate cookie recipe? Who wouldn’t like that?
Some kitchen activities are a little less kid-friendly, like using sharp knives and operating the stove or oven. So special rules are needed as a precaution.
One idea is to get kids started with harmless kitchen toys like our Little Moppet™ Kitchen playsets. These toys provide a great way to get little chefs familiar with common cooking utensils and equipment, and help them learn that some items require special handling.
Pretend play toys stimulate imagination in many ways. Creating their own special recipe will not only teach them how ingredients go together, it will allow them to get practice using kitchen utensils and equipment. A perfect teachable opportunity!
Kids have a natural desire to imitate adults. For example, when they see mommy or daddy preparing dinner they’ll want to get in on the fun. Having their own kitchen toys can serve that purpose.
If you give a toddler a kitchen playset, they’ll immediately start ‘cooking’ the food. Why not suggest that they hold their own dinner party with their favorite dolls or superheroes as guests? Or maybe a cooking contest? A bit of prompting might be needed, but the ideas are endless.
OTHER IMPORTANT SKILLS
For younger children, working alongside mommy or daddy in the kitchen is an ideal way to build their vocabulary. It’s a great opportunity to learn the names of the different meats, proteins, spices, vegetables and fruit.
They’ll also learn what a stove, blender, knife are, along with other utensils and equipment. Other subjects can be explained, such as the difference between hot and cold, and wet and dry.
Kids will quickly grasp the basics of cooking - removing food from the fridge; cooking it on the stove in a pot; eating the food using correct utensils. We don’t put soup in a plate, nor do we try to eat it with a fork!
When children play in groups, it encourages cooperation and communication. Questions like, ‘What’s for supper?’ Who’ll set up place settings? and lastly, Who gets the unfortunate job of cleaning up?’
Great questions that will stimulate conversation and independent thinking.
A CORNERSTONE OF CREATIVITY
Kids can weave a kitchen into all sorts of amazing and unusual stories when working in the kitchen. They can pretend to be in the home, a restaurant, a school, or a hospital. If you want to get really creative, how about a superhero headquarters or a colony on the moon!
Children can create their own food combinations and recipes with the pretend food. They can figure out what foods work in their world of make-believe and which ones work in real life.
Of course, there’s another ‘secret’ benefit: having kids cook their own vegetables they might otherwise be unwilling to try, can get them to develop a taste for just about anything.
DEVELOPING OTHER EMOTIONS
When a child engages in role-play, they are placing themselves in someone else’s shoes. They must identify and process that person’s motives, thoughts, and feelings. This strengthens a child’s sense of empathy.
The act of cooking meals for others is an expression of love and caring.
Since the bulk of cooking and cleaning duties often fall to mothers, children can learn about the concept of empathy, an especially valuable life lesson that could help boys share in household chores.
Unstructured, imaginative playtime is important for children’s development . Some might think this is counter to modern thinking where children’s daily schedules are planned out practically to the second.
Creativity, moral development, and emotional regulation are equally as important as math and science. Pretend play is not just about learning but is also very helpful in forming emotional connections. This helps children become better human beings.
It is important to encourage children to be at ease and have fun in the kitchen. It’s a place of comfort, for families to gather, and for little chefs to show off their latest recipes. Who knows, it might spark an interest could turn into a fulfilling career!