Let Cooking in the Classroom be a Year-Round Experience!Nov 12, 2017
Cooking with kids is fun!
The great thing about cooking with young children is it fosters healthy eating attitudes from an early age while encouraging thinking about how things grow and then change in the cooking process. Don’t know where to start? Why not at the beginning!
“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.” Guy Fieri
Gardening: Planting a garden is a great way to encourage kids to try new fruits/vegetables, teach about nutrition and introduce science concepts. Each stage of the growth process brings new discoveries while also teaching the responsibility of caring for growing things and the tasks involved in bringing food to the table. Research has also confirmed that fruit and vegetable intake increases for children who are involved in the gardening process.
“Gardening has been proven to improve fruit and vegetable intake in children, and promote a healthier diet.” – Morris, JL, Briggs, M, Zidenberg-Cherr. School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits. California Agriculture. 2000;55(1):40-46.
There are many ideas for gardening with children on the internet, from a full garden if you have the space, to simply growing herbs and tomatoes in a classroom garden. One school I work with has a table in the front office where they sell little paper bags of produce from their garden for a minimal price. Parents and visitors get to enjoy the harvest and help fund the gardening project!
Discovery: After learning where their food comes from, explore! Hand each child the fruits and vegetables you’ll be cooking and let them explore the texture, smell, and noise it makes as you check for ripeness. Put beans and flour in bowls and let them feel it with their fingers, ask questions about each item, and talk about what you use them for. The opportunity for discovery is endless!
Cooking/Prepping: Now onto the really fun part!
“Recipes should connect with classroom projects. (think of watching seeds grow-planting/tending- harvesting, cooking, and finally eating foods)” – Michelle Johnson, MS, RD, LDN
No matter what recipe you are making, children will learn! Cut open fruit, check out what’s inside and give plastic knives to cut it into pieces. Make bread, letting them mix the ingredients, watch the yeast bubble and explain how each ingredient is necessary to the process. Did you know that the small amount of sugar in the bread recipe is to feed the yeast so it can grow? Or that using water that is too hot will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise? That’s interesting science!
Incorporate ingredients and recipes from around the world to teach cultural differences and widen their own pallets. Keep things interesting by introducing foods/ingredients that your students have never seen or tasted before, encouraging them to try new things.
Each recipe you create brings opportunities for children to explore so many things! Remember to take time during each cooking session to incorporate sanitary food prep procedures, hand washing, model table manners, and be aware of food allergies. (you can take our courses on food allergies and how to keep everything sanitary here.)
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