26 August 2010

Does Cooking with Children = Mess or Learning?

There is an article on the BBC website If flour + sugar + children = mess, why let them bake? written by Katy from I Can Cook which got me thinking about cooking with children.

Of course cooking with children is messy but it also has a whole host of learning opportunities.

First, you need a recipe. Finding a recipe using cookery books, shows the use of non-fiction books and gives the opportunity to use an index or you could use a computer search engine. We have found using an internet search for a recipe interesting to see variations of the same recipe and deciding which one works best for us.

Then reading the recipe - older children can read it for themselves, younger ones will need help. This shows that reading is a useful skill and demonstrates the use of instructional text. If your children like cooking get them a notebook and help them make their own recipe book. This helps them practice writing skills (don't forget to add photographs or illustrations of the finished product). They can copy in favourite recipes but also make up their own simple ones for their favourite things like cheese on toast, home made ice lollies or popcorn, which gives them practice at writing instructions.

Next we need the ingredients (learning through shopping is a whole other post see
summer holiday market shopping or super maths for supermarket for some ideas). Have you got everything you need or do you need to make some substitutes (strawberry jam for raspberry jam, sultanas for raisins (or chocolate chips!). Looking at the ingredients gives the opportunity to increase vocabulary and general knowledge - what is oregano? where is butter kept? how is tomato puree made? what are raisins made from? where do bananas come from?

Measuring out ingredients using both weight and volume is a great practical maths lesson, what is bigger a teaspoon or a tablespoon? How many cups of flour do we need - can you count them?

Then the making part - this involves many fine motor skills; pouring, scooping, cracking eggs, stirring, whisking, cutting, grating, spooning, kneading, rolling, squeezing, sprinkling, spreading - every part of the making process using motor skills (which in turn will help them improve their handwriting!).

Recipes that involve cooking (or freezing) also teach patience / time telling as you can't eat them immediately!

Some of the things we have made recently...


Marita said...

I love cooking with my girls as a one-on-one activity. When it is both girls together I find it rather more stressful.

So have learned over the years to tailor the activity, if it is just one child we can do something more complex. If it is both, then we do something simple like spreading icing on store brought biscuits and sticking on things like sultanas and jelly beans to make a face.

Just important to get in there and have a go and work out what works best for you.

Elaine, Littlesheep Learning said...

Thanks for your comment... Good point about doing easier things when cooking with more than one - I should try that... we also count whilst stirring so that everyone gets "equal turn" (although the big one has worked out I count slower for my stirs than the little ones!)