6 Ways to Involve Young Children in Meal Preparation
Young children learn best when they get to explore with their senses. A great way to let them enjoy a unique multi-sensorial experience is through involving them in meal preparation. Meal preparation is an important aspect of practical life. As children prepare food, they get to observe, touch, smell, taste and listen. This activity also provides opportunity for them to learn about healthy eating and develop variety of skills from early childhood.
Basic math and language skills can be enhanced in the process of creating meals. Children can practice simple counting and measuring of ingredients. And as they follow a recipe, they get to listen and learn new words, such as the name of food, utensils, actions and steps.
During meal preparation, you can easily introduce healthy foods and explain their benefits for the body. You can also encourage them to try new tastes and textures. Food becomes more appetizing to children when they have had a big contribution in making it, so even picky eaters may be willing to try it.
Following the Montessori Method toddlers and preschoolers can start with small and simple tasks through a sequence of activities. The key is finding activities appropriate for their skill level and interest.
Here are some suggested meal preparation activities for kids:
- Preparing pizza
Allow the kids to roll out prepared pizza dough on a tray. Let them spread the sauce and cheese, and the preferred healthy toppings. Put the pizza in the oven and once cooked, let them cut the pizza using a plastic pizza cutter.
- Potato mashing
Prepare boiled potato, milk, butter, and a little bit of salt and pepper in separate containers. In a bowl, let them mash the boiled potato with the butter and milk using a child-sized potato masher. After mashing, they can add salt and pepper if they want.
- Carrot work
The first step is washing the carrots and then removing the peel. It is important to peel away from their hands to avoid injury. Using a wavy chopper, they will then cut the carrots into small pieces and it is ready to serve.
- Peeling and slicing eggs
Boil eggs and let them cool. Crack the eggs gently and allow the children to peel the eggs. Once finished they can cut the eggs through a slicer.
- Juicing orange
Prepare a juicer and jug where the juice will be placed. Let the kids squeeze the oranges previously cut in half and allow them to pour the juice in the jug. Then let them add and mix water and sugar in the concentrated juice.
- Mixing salad
Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce should be placed in separate bowls. Using a tongs or their hands, children can put and mix these ingredients in a bowl. Also, let them add the salad dressing and additional toppings.
Being involved in food preparation provides young children with a sense of accomplishment. So whatever the result is, it is important to let them know that their work is valued and appreciated.