I have always loved cooking with children! A favorite memory of my first job as a toddler teacher is a tray with containers of all the ingredients for making play dough that was on the top shelf in the classroom. We would REGULARLY, like every week or two, make a new batch of playdough with our children. They loved dumping the cups of flour and salt (of course! 😍 ) and pouring the water in, then mixing it with a wooden spoon. After mixing it together, we’d hand it over to the kitchen where they would cook it and bring back the dough when it was still warm, yet cool enough to handle.

Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack… 3-4 times every day we gather around the table with our children to share food together.

The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: even the simplest food is a gift.

-Laurie Colwin

This quote reflects the joyful experience of preparing and sharing food with family and friends. Let’s think about it in terms of an early childhood classroom.

Your goal is to create a community, a school “family” where every child participates and contributes. Each day your schedule includes meals and snacks. In fact, if you took the time that you spend preparing to eat, eating, and then cleaning up after eating you might see that it’s a considerable percentage of your day! 

Making snacks and meals meaningful, as well as a time to practice burgeoning skills like handling a fork, managing a cup of milk without a lid, serving yourself family-style, and making conversation with others is so important. Children will be much more likely to try a food they’ve prepared themselves.

Children learn best when they experience the world firsthand – through touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing – cooking provides all of these opportunities to learn.  Cooking activities, done with your whole class or in small groups, are a favorite with children.  And there are so many benefits!

Here are some ideas of foods that need no recipe and that children would love to make and eat…

  1. Chocolate milk (use powder or Hershey syrup)
  2. Toast and butter (with jelly, cinnamon sugar shaker, or honey)
  3. Popcorn (Jiffy Pop is really fun and stimulates curiosity)
  4. Macaroni and cheese (box mix)
  5. Ants on a log (celery sticks, cream cheese or nut butter, raisins)
  6. Eggs (boiled or scrambled)
  7. Biscuits (canned or mix with Bisquick & water)
  8. Instant pudding (could be shaken or mixed with a spoon or rotary mixer)
  9. Dry cereal mix (cheerios, golden grahams, chex… so many choices!)
  10. Jello (made with a box mix or fruit juice with plain gelatin)
  11. Soup (use Stone Soup book for a literacy connection)
  12. Pizza (English muffins or dough, sauce, and cheese)


So there you go! Some great ideas for cooking with kids that are easy, affordable, and tasty.

Try these simple ideas with your children. Make cooking a part of your curriculum and enjoy mealtimes with your children.

It’s an important part of their day. And yours.

Download our pdf: Benefits of Classroom Cooking! for concepts children learn and discover as they prepare and taste the foods you prepare.

Have fun cooking and sharing meals with your kids!