Caroline has been very excited about all of the cooking going on this week. No surprise, like the rest of the Gerbers, she loves to eat (olives, cheese and pretzels above all else). But she also loves to stand on her chair and ask, “Mommy, can I help?” She even woke up last Saturday asking, “Is it Pancake Day?”
It makes me happy that she wants to help (I never did as a kid) but I’ve struggled to figure out how to keep her involved – and safe – in the kitchen. Plus her attention span is like a gnat so she usually abandons me in the middle of decorating cookies.
A few of the ways she “helps”:
- Cracking eggs
- Dropping blueberries into the pancakes
- Mixing homemade granola with her hands
- Spreading mayo or peanut butter onto a sandwich
- Shaking sprinkles onto cookies
- Making bread (aka pouring ingredients in the breadmaker)
- Getting out a cup, plate and utensils from her own drawer at her level
- Unloading the dishwasher (she loves to find her Tinkerbell plate)
- Picking up the cloth napkins after dinner (when I remind her)
As their motor skills develop, preschoolers can begin to learn basic concepts that they will need in the kitchen. Keep in mind that their attention spans are short, so small tasks are usually best, particularly those that do not call for actual prep work. They can help assemble sandwiches, layer lasagna, top a pizza, or sprinkle decorations on cupcakes or cookies.
- Stirring batter in a bowl. A large bowl with a nonskid base will be sturdier for beginners, and a spoon with a thick handle will be easier for small hands to grip.
- Rinsing and straining fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Mixing and kneading pizza or other yeast dough. Keep work surfaces and hands well floured to avoid sticking.
- Pouring liquid ingredients.
- Spreading peanut butter and jelly on bread.
- Mashing potatoes and other cooked vegetables.
- Rolling bread or pie dough.
- Using cookie and biscuit cutters.
- Whisking pancake batter.
- Cutting soft fruits and vegetables with a dull butter knife or plastic knife.
- Measuring liquid and dry ingredients.
Looking for ideas for older kids? You can read more here.
Do your kids like to cook? How do they help you in the kitchen?