Re: Cooking with preschoolers
posted at 4/8/2013 1:10 PM EDT
We wound up making biscuits yesterday for breakfast because DD wanted to help make them. She helps measure the dry goods - I pick out the right sized measuring spoon and tell her how many spoons we need for the salt, sugar, baking soda, etc. I usually do the initial mix of the dough, but DD helps to sprinkle the flour on before we knead, and she loves kneading and patting out the dough. She has plastic cookie cutters that we use, and the Easter bunny brought new ones, so we had bunny and flower shaped biscuits. Once all the biscuits are cut, there is usually a little blob of dough that is too small to use for a biscuit, so DD plays with that while the biscuits bake.
Most of our cooking is breakfast foods, since it seems like weekend mornings are the most relaxed time to cook with DD, so scrambled eggs, pancake and waffle batters, biscuits, muffins and french toast are all things we make together. She also loves smoothies, so we put all the ingredients into the blender (banana, frozen fruit like strawberries and blueberries, milk and greek yogurt, often with a squeeze of chocolate syrup) and she licks the yogurt off the spoon while I blend everything together. She doesn't like the noise of the blender, so she isn't into pushing the buttons, but if she was into it, I would let her once I was sure the lid was on.
At dinner time, we let her help with things like salting the pasta water, or putting salt and pepper on things, mixing stuff in a bowl, like for a casserole or sauce, but she isn't as involved with dinner prep, mostly because it tends to be a bit more hectic, and I am not ready to let her stir things on the stove. She does love to help make pizza (we buy the dough from the grocery, or if we plan ahead, we get Bertucci's dough). And for lasagna or enchiladas or any other item that gets a layer of shredded cheese, she loves to spread that on (then eat a bunch of the cheese that is stuck to her hand!)
We have a stool for her to stand on, and I try and have her sit at the table when she is mixing things, because she can kneel on a chair and get better leverage (less likely to fling stuff out of the bowl). But messes are inevitable, so I try to prevent some by making sure her sleeves are rolled up, or she wears an apron, and that I set her up to work on an uncrowded counter if stuff is getting flung everywhere, so I don't have to clean off the coffemaker or toaster as well as the counter.