Cooking with your kids is one of the best activities for bonding and learning. Not only is cooking together a fun way to connect, but it’s also an excellent way to teach food safety and nutrition, build motor skills, and bolster foundational math, science, and literacy.
Whether baking is your weekly Saturday morning activity or you’re looking for a way to keep your kids occupied over long holiday breaks, consider these tips for a fun — and safe — cooking experience!
Take a look at this delicious pumpkin bread recipe that owner Valentina made in her preschool when she was younger and became a family seasonal recipe. Valentina cooked a lot with her mother growing up and loves to cook with her children now. Carter, her 6-year-old son, has a strong interest in cooking and cooked this family pumpkin bread recipe. The family enjoyed eating it and it was a fun activity for them to do together.
Crosswicks Country Day School Pumpkin Bread
Transcribed from 35-year-old recipe by Angie Van Hise 2015
Continue reading to see how kids of different age groups can help with the recipe!
Start With Food Safety Basics
Even if your child has been scrambling eggs since they could walk, there’s always a benefit to teaching and reviewing food safety basics. Going over food safety ensures that you’ll have a yummy treat to eat, and it teaches life-long skills that your kid can take with them through college dorm cooking, owning their own home, and eventually cooking Thanksgiving for the entire family!
Every time you cook, go over these ground rules with children:
- Wash your hands in warm water with soap for at least 30 seconds — before and after handling food
- Tie back hair or wear a protective cap to keep it out of the way
- Clean countertops and surfaces (cutting boards) throughout the cooking
- Only eat cooked food with specific sample spoons (i.e. don’t let your kids lick the raw cookie batter!)
- Keep raw foods separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods
For older children, have them lead a sample cooking class! Put them in charge and allow them to think of creative ways to teach these rules to you, their student. By engaging these creative muscles and teaching the rules themselves, older children are more likely to remember and practice food safety.
No matter the age of the child, all kids can benefit from learning about food safety. When it comes to activities in the kitchen, however, you’ll want to differentiate based on age. Check out these age-appropriate tips from The Art Farm NYC before your next cooking experience. Ages 2 and up can benefit from cooking classes for kids!
Cooking With 3-5 Year Olds
Cooking with young children is an incredible way to build a lifelong passion for food and cooking, but it takes some supervision. While young ones love to help out and get their hands dirty, you should focus more on the importance of cleanliness with this age group.
Consider practicing these age-appropriate tasks with children aged 3 through 5:
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds (to make sure you’re washing for long enough, sing your favorite holiday song or the ABCs!)
- Wash fruits and vegetables in the sink before using
- Wipe table tops with counter spray
- Stir ingredients in batters
- Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes
This age group needs a lot of supervision in the kitchen, but cooking is one of the best ways to get those developing motor skills going.
Cooking With 6-7 Year Olds
With this age group, you can have kids help with more labor-intensive tasks. While 6- and 7-year-olds have more developed fine motor skills, they’ll still need reminders when it comes to food safety.
Have these kids help with:
- Peeling fruits and vegetables
- Cracking eggs
- Loading the dishwasher
- Preparing herbs
- Measuring ingredients
Cooking With 8-9 Year Olds
In this age range, maturity levels differ greatly. Because this age group has developed fine motor skills and general literacy, you should be the judge of each child’s level.
Age-appropriate cooking tasks include:
- Opening cans and jars
- Putting leftovers away
- Working with poultry and meats
- Cracking and whisking eggs
- Preparing batters
- Using meat thermometers
- Juicing fruits
At this age, kids understand food safety enough to practice it! Give them opportunities to refrigerate ingredients, work with raw vs. cooked food, and to disinfect cooking surfaces.
Cooking With 10-12 Year Olds
By this age, children with basic kitchen knowledge can cook with limited supervision. Let kids in this age group take the reigns by gathering ingredients, following recipes, turning on ovens and stoves, and doing the actual cooking (again, with supervision).
Tasks, with adult supervision, include:
- Boiling water
- Using the microwave
- Following a recipe from start to finish
- Baking in the oven
- Simmering on the stove
- Slicing or chopping easy-to-cut foods
Cooking Classes For Kids NYC
Whether your child aspires to be Ina Garten or you’re looking for a fun way to enrich their schedule, cooking classes for kids at The Art Farm NYC are a great place to start.
Our Farm Foods Cooking Class, for example, is an afterschool program for children aged 2 through 8. Kids learn the importance of food safety, practice kitchen basics, and cook seasonal and nutritious dishes.
Foster your child’s creativity and love of cooking — sign up for classes for kids today at The Art Farm NYC!