Cooking is a tactile activity that uses all five senses and is made up of dozens of little tasks, each one suitable for different age levels. Including children in the kitchen activates their taste buds and develops essential skills for a lifetime. Below are some tips for different age groups. Maturity and dexterity differ in each child, so it’s up to you to determine what skill level is appropriate for your kids.
These little ones need supervision, but are very tactile and love to eat their projects. Get clever by letting them have fun while also creating a byproduct you can use in a recipe. The introduction of cooking to this particular age group will have a lifelong impact. They will be eager to help, so with a proper set-up you can set your child and yourself up for success. The most important thing to remember is that it WILL get messy. Be prepared and embrace the mess! The extra effort it takes to clean up, is well worth the developmental impact.
This age range has more motor skills, independence, and focus. You can introduce more kitchen tools, but they will still need reminders to watch their fingers during cutting, grating, and peeling. This is a great age to start including in menu planning. These children are great problem solvers who want to have their voices heard. Allowing a child within this age range to share their mealtime desires honors their interest as an individual within your family.
This age group can usually work independently in the kitchen after helping them get started and assessing if they can follow basic kitchen safety rules. Then, they can move onto basic tasks at the stove and oven, or using a chef’s knife with adult supervision
Activities they can start to do on their own:
Using a knife
Using a can opener
Using the stovetop and oven
Using appliances (food processor, toaster, blender)
Putting away leftovers
Use a meat thermometer and learn safe temperatures
Older kids and teens may be well equipped to accomplish any number of practiced kitchen and cooking tasks. At this age, they can start preparing simple meals for themselves and others, and use the stove and oven without supervision.
Activities they can do on their own:
Making recipes on the stovetop (scrambled eggs, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches)
We'd like to give a special thank you to Julia Mohseni of Sunnyside Montessori for being a wonderful resource for our Cooking with Kids segment. We hope you enjoyed these recipes and cooking activities! Let us know if you try them in your own home-kitchen by tagging #mealherokid on social media. We'd love to feature your family and are always here for any cooking or food related questions you may have. Reach out to us in messages on Facebook or Instagram or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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