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What can Children Learn Through Cooking

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    Cooking with children can provide many beneficial learning experiences. At Tiggers we can cover a range of learning and development areas by planning for children to partake in regular cooking activities. Here’s what you can cover at home by encouraging your children to help you in the kitchen!

    Mathematics

    Cooking provides wonderful opportunities to help your child learn mathematical vocabulary. How better to learn phrases like 'more than' or 'less than' than by weighing out ingredients. Remember in the UK to weigh in grams rather than imperial measures. Let your child feel a 1kg bag of sugar to feel how heavy it is. He or she could also feel other packages to help to develop estimation skills.

    Your child will gain experience in counting and recognising numbers. If decorations are to be added to cakes, let your child add a specific number and counting opportunities can arise while setting the table. Through the use of different cutters, children can learn the names of various 2D shapes. You can discuss how many corners or sides these shapes have so that children will learn the properties of many shapes. Your child can learn about timing too.

    Select easier words for very young children and introduce the more difficult when you feel your child is ready. Put the words into a context such as, "Which cake is bigger, yours or mine?”  Why not try to make our all-in-one Victoria Sandwich - perfect and fool-proof recipe to make

    Language Skills

    You can help your child to learn lots of new words and concepts through discussion while you are cooking. Show your child what a recipe is and that you need to follow instructions in order to achieve the required result.
    Children can learn the names of ingredients and words like sieve, whisk, stir, mix, roll and melt. They can look for words on packets like eggs and sugar and try to find these words in the recipe. Take a look at our easy recipes that your kids will love to eat and help you make. 

    Science

    It is surprising just how big a part science plays in cooking. It involves the concept of changing materials: liquid cake mix becomes a solid through baking, juice can become ice lollies when frozen and chocolate melts when heated.

    Cooking provides an excellent opportunity to discuss where foods come from such as eggs or milk and how and where various foods grow. Children can learn many things through questions raised in the kitchen including what they need to eat to keep healthy. Talk to them about which foods give them the energy to run and jump and which ones help them to grow strong. Or see science in the kitchen whist making a pizza base from scratch Pepperoni Pizza is a firm favourite to make.

    Physical Skills

    It is important to let your child to carry out as many of the cooking tasks as possible (excluding dangerous ones where sharp knives are involved). Obviously if there is a lot of mixing they could begin and you could finish it off as they may lack the physical ability. Tasks such as holding a spoon, mixing, beating, shaking, pouring, rolling or cutting will help to develop your child’s fine motor skills whilst encouraging your child to smell and feel the ingredients will help to improve his or her use of senses. Our Rainbow Pancakes are perfect for little ones to make and they score some major cool mum (or dad) points too!

    Emotional and Social Development

    Food is a really good vehicle for communication. Children can learn to share and how to take turns, particularly if they make something with a friend or sibling. Then when the cooking is over, you can sit down and enjoy eating together.

    Points to Remember

    • Children have short attention spans so give them quick, simple jobs.
    • Give instructions one at a time
    • Expect children to spill things and make a mess
    • Include cleaning-up as part of the activity

    To sum up, cooking can be great fun for all children. It can be a great bonding experience between child and parent and a great tool for learning. There is the additional benefit that a child is more likely to try new foods, for example vegetables, having been involved in the preparation. Set the ground rules first, supervise throughout and you should both thoroughly enjoy the experience.

    Theresa Ogden
    Tiggers Nurseries Ltd MD
    www.tiggersnurseries.com
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    What can children learn through cooking