Calling all aspiring top chefs! Come explore food and culture with us this summer!
Cooking is an incredible activity to explore in early childhood. There are numerous benefits to teaching children to cook.
Kids develop fine motor skills through cutting, mixing, using kitchen gadgets and kneading dough. When the kids cook from Italy, they love chopping the tomatoes with Pampered Chef My Safe Cutter Knives. You can see their tiny fingers working hard as they chop and sort the pieces. They get the biggest kick out of mixing ingredients for pasta dough and then using the pasta maker to roll and cut the fettucine. We usually add spinach puree to make it green—even the pickiest eaters find that although the noodles are green—they love the taste! After they cook their pasta and top it with their homemade sauce, they enjoy learning to twirl the noodles around and around, just like at a cafe in Italy!
They gain practical mathematic application through measuring ingredients and cutting fruits and vegetables. Measuring and mixing is something kids do independently—if you check out any sandbox, you can see kids carefully doling out an array of carefully portioned cupcakes to their friends. When they cook, kids learn the importance of proper measuring. They learn how to read a measuring cup and the concept of half and whole—older children can go even further with fraction work. They learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide as they work out doubling or cutting a recipe in half. And, when balancing a teacher-led experience with the opportunity to play, kids can gain a mastery of these mathematic skills.
Through cooking with others, they foster language development and team work as they cooperate to make their masterpieces. The kids love to cook in teams and talk about the ingredients the teacher introduces—they discuss the sensory experiences—what they see, smell, touch, taste. They repeat new vocabulary and work together to use and apply the new words properly. And, in order to accomplish making something correctly, the kids work together and cooperate.
Kids learn about nutrition and foods to maintain a healthy body. Through the process of cooking with whole foods, children learn about each individual ingredient and where it comes from. They learn about how each thing affects their body—how sugar can give them a temporary energy surge but also cause them to feel very tired afterwards. And, they learn about how fruits and vegetables give them vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy and grow. Our teachers discuss each ingredient and give children the opportunity to try raw ingredients—we have found that “deconstructed” foods are the most kid friendly and make things not so scary to try!
They gain tremendous knowledge and respect for other cultures—we have seen kids become so curious about other people and places as they learn about, cook and try new foods from across the globe. After cooking from Europe, South America, Asia and the Islands, kids are excited to learn more about these places. They experience the culture through making food and trying their finished product—they enjoy listening to the sounds of the land they cook from, viewing images and short videos about other aspects of the culture and trying out dance moves and singing songs as they cook.
They also gain a sense of independence as they develop the knowledge and skills to cook—they develop a good understanding of something that is so essential to all of us—how to cook and feed themselves. It’s a wonderful life skill that is so much fun to learn.