On Fridays this season, the Big Kids and I are exploring the art and science of food preparation…a.k.a. cooking!
I’ve been looking forward to teaching the Big Kids all about food for what feels like a long time. I grew up watching my mom work her magic in the kitchen and loved helping her with everything from chopping up vegetables for everyday dinners to rolling out pie dough for special occasions. Though she was convinced that I “still didn’t know how to boil water” upon leaving home for university, I’ve proven her wrong, becoming an avid cook myself.
However, Budding Chefs isn’t only about indulging in my favourite pastime (and a few desserts). The program is all about helping children build on the skills they already have in order to develop a sense of self-efficacy and independence. Like I did way back when, the Big Kids watch and learn from their parents in the kitchen. They know a lot about food already, and by building on the knowledge and skills they bring to class, Budding Chefs aims to make little kids feel like Big Kids!
Here are some of the ways Budding Chefs, and cooking with kids in general, can benefit big and little kids alike:
Social-Emotional Development: Hands-on cooking activities help children develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. The act of following a recipe can encourage self-direction and independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use problem-solving skills.
Physical Development: Chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing are all cooking skills that help develop a child’s muscle control and hand-eye coordination. By encouraging children to try new and nutritious foods, we help build their knowledge about healthy eating.
Cognitive Development: Cooking inspires children’s curiosity, thinking, and problem-solving. It offers new opportunities to make predictions and observations. Also, cooking offers authentic opportunities for students to understand and apply their knowledge of measuring, numbers, and counting. As they follow a recipe, children organize ingredients, follow a sequence, and carry out multiple directions.
Language Development: With its own vocabulary, cooking is a great opportunity for language development. We will take advantage of opportunities for children to match pictures to words and articulate questions inspired by their new experiences.
The Big Kids and I kicked off the winter season with a field trip to the grocery store to end all grocery stores: Whole Foods! Our mission: to find all the foods on our “supermarket bingo” cards. The Big Kids blazed a trail through the store in search of all the items on their cards. A few organic vegetables and a dozen eggs later, they all cheered BINGO!
Subsequent to our kick-off field trip, the kids have started working on the piece de resistance of the program: their very own Budding Chefs cookbook! Each week, inspired by a different work of children’s literature, we’ll be adding new recipes and testing them out right here at Buddings. I’ll be adding a little extra je ne sais quoi by contributing photos of the children participating in each lesson as well as the kids’ questions and comments.
Last week, we tested out our first recipe of the season and made some good ol’ fashioned butter. Armed with a glass jar, a marble, and a half cup of heavy cream, the Big Kids danced, shook, and jumped around until they’d thickened their cream into butter. Then, they made a snack for their toddler buddies by mashing up their butter to make some delicious mashed yams. Talk about homemade!
As the season progresses, we’ll be cooking up some more delicious and nutritious recipes, making our way through all the food groups, and taste-testing them along the way as all good cooks do. Ever wonder how to make Green Eggs and Ham, minus the ham? How about Stone Soup? Stay tuned to find out and check the Buddings white board for weekly updates on what’s cooking!