By: Susan Jackson, County Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Science
Last week in this column we shared ideas for cooking with children. It never fails to amaze me the amount of education available when cooking with children. They think it is fun.
Here’s a taste of all the skills little ones can learn while baking carrot cake or a batch of oatmeal cookies. Consider it summer scrumptious schooling on the sly!
Utah State University offers these ideas to teach them five tasty skills.
Math Whether you’re filling a pan with half the batter, breaking three eggs into a bowl, or measuring out 1/3 of a cup of oil, baking offers many opportunities to teach your children about arithmetic. Be sure to ask pointed questions to get them thinking such as: “How much of the measuring cup is still empty?” and “If this recipe calls for two sticks of butter and we only have half a stick in the fridge, how many do we need to buy at the supermarket?” What better way to introduce real life math applications than with double chocolate brownies?
Culture Baking desserts from different parts of the world is a wonderful way to teach your children about different cultures —including your own. Use a family recipe for zeppole as an opportunity to talk about grandma’s childhood in Sicily, or a flan you discovered during a childhood trip to Argentina. You’ll see how the preparation of ethnic recipes often leads to discussions on customs, language, holidays and more.
Organization Getting ready to prepare dessert can help little ones learn patience and planning. Have them look over the recipe in advance and make a list of all the ingredients that are not in the kitchen and need to be purchased. Before launching into preparations, get out the pots, pans, bowls, and utensils. Once everything is set up, determine who will do which task.
Following directions Baking is a process in which steps must be executed in a particular order for a recipe to be successful. Ask your child, “Wouldn’t it be silly if we poured all the ingredients into the cake pan before combining them with the mixer?” or “The recipe says to let the cake cool before icing. What do you think might happen if we ice the cake while it’s still hot?” Your child can also learn to follow the household rules: Wash hands before cooking and cleanup before leaving the kitchen, for example. Remember that kids get excited easily, so you may have to repeat directions often.
Responsibility Give kids – even young ones – a role in the baking experience. Preschoolers can wash fruits and knead dough, while older children can break and beat eggs, measure out ingredients, and frost cakes. Clean?up is the perfect time to teach children about completing a project from beginning to end.