Get Cooking with the Kids

Have fun with your kids in the kitchen—and teach them important life skills at the same time!

By FamilyTime


Children love to cook and they love to spend time with you in the kitchen. Teaching them basic kitchen skills is a win-win situation because cooking teaches responsibility, planning, organization, and science. It boosts self-esteem. And in the end, you and your kids have something delicious to eat!

Before you begin, break down the recipe by steps and help the kids prep for it. You can assemble the food and equipment, but let them measure, chop (with supervision), and mix. They learn by doing!

Safety First

Teach children to handle knives and electrical appliances. Insist they wear oven mitts when near the oven or stove and when handling cooking pans. Remind them that pans stay hot after cooking.

Teach them to remove spoons from cooking pots---they can easily be knocked and spatter hot food.

Supervise the children carefully. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.

Messy but Good, Clean Fun

Don't worry if the kids spill on their clothes (they love wearing aprons!). If food gets on the floor, so what? But do teach them basic sanitary lessons.

  • Always wash hands before any cooking project.
  • Wipe down countertops and work surfaces before and after cooking.
  • Use clean utensils and equipment.
  • Wash up as you go along. Fill a sink with hot, soapy water and dink dirty utensils in it for easy cleanup.
  • Keep cold foods refrigerated until needed. Return ingredients to the refrigerator after using them (milk and butter, for example).

Easy Ideas

Choose easy, age-appropriate recipes. For beginners, try smoothies, muffin pizzas, ice pops, cookies, and pancakes. Homemade ice cream is a big hit (you need an ice cream machine).

Ice Pops Buy ice pop molds. Fill with fruit juice (orange juice, lemonade, Kool-Aid). Freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until frozen.

Alternatively, fill small paper cups with juice. Set on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour until slushy. Insert Popsicle sticks into the slush. Return to the freezer until frozen. Peel off cups.

Fruit Smoothies For 2 smoothies, put 1 large sliced banana and 1 /2 cup of rinsed, hulled strawberries in the blender. Add 1 cup of milk or yogurt and 1 /2 cup of ice chips. Blend until thick and smooth.

Substitute peaches, raspberries, or another fruit for the strawberries. Use orange juice in place of milk. Use less liquid for thicker smoothies. Encourage experimentation!

English Muffin Pizzas To make four pizzas (each with two halves), split four English muffins in half. Lay the halves on a broiling tray. Preheat the broiler.

Spread pizza or spaghetti sauce on each muffin half. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese begins to melt and the sauce is hot. Let cool a little—the cheese is hot!

Vary with slices of pepperoni, mushrooms, garlic, onions, or olives. Use provolone cheese and grated Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella.

Try this My First Casserole with the kids tonight.