With the holidays approaching, that means you could be busy in the kitchen making lots of delicious foods for your family. And of course you can always use an extra hand in the kitchen. Did you know that cooking with your child is a great way for them to develop motor skills? Cooking with your child provides many experiences such as pre-math skills, communication and language, bonding, and creativity as well. Cooking is a universal love among children and adults alike.
Two year olds are developing large muscles in their arms. Stirring mixtures of foods is a great activity for toddlers. A child naturally imitates circular strokes as a part of their normal physical development so stirring should be simple enough and create enjoyment for them in the process. Scrubbing vegetables is another great task for the busy toddler. Toddlers can also help with pouring wet or dry ingredients into a bowl using large measuring cups.
We all know the nursery rhyme “Patty Cake.” This is a great rhyme to sing for actions such as patting or pressing doughs. They can also pack down levels of dry ingredients such as sugars or flour. At preschool, children do this activity in the sensory table and playing outside with sand or dirt. They are great “patters.” They can also use cookie cutters to press down cookie dough.
Of course children love to dip foods into sauces. Dipping develops arm muscle skills too. It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination to dip the food and then get the dipped food into their mouth. We want to provide lots of opportunities for this skill: carrots in dressing, peanut butter or humus, french fries in catsup, fruits in yogurt dips and how about dipping fruits in chocolate and freezing them for a yummy snack later!
Once you’ve finished your cooking task, have your preschooler help you clean up. Your child can help wipe objects with a clean dish towel. They can put dirty bowls and utensils in the sink. They can even use a small dust pan to sweep up mixtures that have fallen on the floor.
Bringing your child in the kitchen to help may take more time and create a bigger mess but the positive experience it creates with you and your child it well worth it. Allowing them to help and experiment in the kitchen with you not only gives them great pleasure, but helps them to develop their age appropriate motor skills.
Program Director-Ozark Location