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Mariam
02-10-2014, 10:12 PM
Hi,

I have a 6yo who wants to start helping in the kitchen. He has sensory issues, and bounces around a lot so I have been hesitant to really get him in the kitchen beyond helping me measure out dry goods or pouring premeasured things into a bowl.

What do you do to let you kids "help" in the kitchen? Also are there any good references out there for suggestions? I want him to feel he can participate in preparing meals (and I hope one day cook for himself).

echomyst
02-11-2014, 01:15 AM
Our almost-four-yr-old chops vegetables with me (I hold her hand), and she can dice soft fruits such as pears with a butter knife on her own.

She measures out the rice, rinses it, and turns on the rice cooker after I've put in the right amount of water. She helps measure ingredients and pour premeasured things as well. She mixes batters for us.

She helps wash vegetables, trim beans, and shell beans/peas.

Hmm... what else? She helps flip eggs and pancakes with supervision.

She also rinses dishes and wipes down the counters after we're done with cooking :-) Oh! And sweeps the floor too if we've dropped flour or something.

Edited to add: It's really important to us that our kids know how to cook because growing up, my own parents never let us into the kitchen (we "got in their way / wasted their time"), and it wasn't until after I moved out on my own that I learned to cook... not a good thing :-(

murphs_mom
02-11-2014, 01:36 AM
Check your local library. There are lots of cooking books for kids. They have recipes that can be done without sharp tools and stoves/ovens. Those are good for bridging to 'real' cooking (with sharp things and burning things). DD has been in charge of her own breakfast and lunch for quite a while now. We started with dry cereal and worked our way up. As she shows competence and understanding of one thing, we move up to something else. Every child is different and some are going to be more capable at an early age, some are going to need more maturity. As long as he's in there mixing it up, I'd let him have at the simple stuff (dry goods, sandwiches, peanut butter, etc.) now just to see if he can reel himself in. I've got a high-energy kid, too, but she's learned that spinning & dancing around isn't a good idea when you're carrying a bowl of cereal. :rolleyes:

KittyP
02-11-2014, 05:27 AM
Kiddo looooves cleaning rice. He has his own "knife (http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Steel-Crinckle-Cutter-Msc/dp/B0039UYF7M/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1392112619&sr=8-4&keywords=crinkle+cutter)" for cutting veggies and such and he makes a mean scrambled egg. Often we make non-food cooking projects like scented rice, playdough, and gak where he gets to be Head Chef and I'm the Sous Chef.

A lot of the time I either don't have the patience or I don't have the attention needed to work with him on cooking and at those times I just talk about what we're doing. We have a blanket chest next to the stove he stands on so he can watch us cook when we're doing things without his help and we explain the different steps, reactions, and terminology. The blanket chest also has all of his cookbooks and cooking utensils where he can access them on his own, wash them, and put them away. We bought him the Curious Chef Pizza Set (http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Chef-5-Piece-Pizza-Kit/dp/B002OS1FZK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1392113436&sr=8-4&keywords=curious+chef) and added dollar store measuring cups/spoons and the crinkle cutter which is a little easier for him to use than the knife in the set and he loves it. I have to say we don't use the cookbooks much. I'm an eyeball-it kind of cook and he tends to do the same. As long as it's not disastrous (like peanut butter in eggs) I tend to let him play around with it and see what works and what doesn't. And of course, he's also the official Taste Tester. ;)

Avalon
02-11-2014, 07:50 PM
Well, my kids were mostly able to stand or sit still, so I frequently had them sitting on the counter beside the stove so they could watch me. They could shake the spices in, add the seasonings / sauces, etc..., and they could stand on a chair and stir. It would depend a little on the layout of your kitchen.

I gave them a real paring knife and let them chop mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, etc... Sometimes I would pre-chop something large (like cauliflower) into more manageable chunks.

Obviously you know your kid best, but I think that the vast majority of children are capable of doing simple tasks with a real knife by the time they're school-age (honestly, even sooner, but I'm trying to sound careful.)

Mariam
02-11-2014, 08:06 PM
I think that the vast majority of children are capable of doing simple tasks with a real knife by the time they're school-age (honestly, even sooner, but I'm trying to sound careful.)

Yes, I hear about kids much younger than my son helping with the cooking. There are days I think that I am being too over protective and then there are days I am amazed that we didn't end up in the ER.

I found a nylon plastic knife, that is meant for lettuce and cake that I will try out. At least there won't be missing fingers.

akrancher
02-11-2014, 10:00 PM
My children 5 & 7 use pumpkin carving knives when they want to help cut and I just can't watch closely. Otherwise, they use a paring knife. The pumpkin carving knives are great.

Crabby Lioness
02-11-2014, 10:48 PM
My very active 5yo gets to set the table, stir, and fetch and carry. I can work a lot of fetching and carrying into a cooking job.

bibiche
02-11-2014, 10:59 PM
DS's first kitchen jobs were peeling carrots and making gnocchi and cavatelli. The vegetable peeling is good preparation for using a knife and the pastas are like playing with play-doh except you get to eat it at the end. A toaster oven is a good (ie safer) first oven and scrambling eggs in a double boiler is a good first stovetop job.

Mariam
02-12-2014, 10:13 AM
DS's first kitchen jobs were peeling carrots and making gnocchi and cavatelli. The vegetable peeling is good preparation for using a knife and the pastas are like playing with play-doh except you get to eat it at the end. A toaster oven is a good (ie safer) first oven and scrambling eggs in a double boiler is a good first stovetop job.


These are good ideas. I let him use the toaster oven. I think I will try vegetable peeling.

Fairielover
02-12-2014, 01:09 PM
Pretend Soup is an excellant cookbook for kids. Recipes are fully illustrated and written to a child's understanding. My son used it for years. http://www.amazon.com/Pretend-Soup-Other-Real-Recipes/dp/1883672066/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1392228375&sr=8-3&keywords=cooking+with+kids

Another great thing for hyper kids is making bread. My son has a hot temper. When he is really angry I know it's time to get out the bread bowl. The more he kneads the bread the more anger he is able to release. And it makes for really light bread.

MrsLOLcat
02-13-2014, 12:40 PM
I'm trying to think back to what my kids could do when they were that age... I had both of them in the kitchen "helping" from about the age of 2 or 3. We started with simple wraps - dump a couple of cans of stuff (black beans, tomatoes, whatever) into a bowl, add shredded cheese, put it on tortillas, nuke it - and moved on from there. By age 6, they had learned to measure, if I handed them the correct spoon or cup, and could "make" biscuits and pancakes. I let them make scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, too. Kneading bread would have been great, but mine never had the attention spans for it. What else... OH, cooking noodles and pasta (I drained it, of course, but they could put it in the water with supervision)... and we did a lot of green salads. At that age I didn't really let them use knives, but they could tear up the greens into bite-size pieces and use scissors to snip herbs or green onions. OH, hamburgers. They could help season and mix the meat and form the patties. And soups. Dumping things into soups and performing 'taste tests' were some of their favorites. I dunno... I just wing it. It must have worked, though, because now they love to get in the kitchen and make stuff all by themselves. Over the weekend they made biscuits and bacon for breakfast and DD made homemade dog treats.

Mariam
02-15-2014, 01:17 AM
Thanks for all of your suggestions and sharing your experiences. I finally have gotten him in the kitchen and he helped me fix dinner for the first time, which he was very excited about.

I purchased a nylon knife, which we may only use a short time, but it got me used to talking about safety and he could practice it without getting hurt. It actually worked pretty well cutting vegetables. He helped me prep all the veg, and put them in the soup pot. And he helped stir.

It was a good building block and he felt very accomplished at helping make the soup. Now I also feel more confident having him in the kitchen helping and learning. Thanks again.

CrazyMom
03-21-2015, 09:07 PM
Try a few "Good Eats" shows and see if it catches his interest. Elle fell in love with Alton Brown when she was about six. He's comical and dynamic....very colorful cartoony guy....but he explains things beautifully, and teaches some science along the way.

We got Elle her own set of measuring cups and spoons, and some cups and bowls to play with in the tub. I'd fill a little pitcher with water, ask her to add a cup and a half of water to the bowl. Ask her to add one Tablespoon of bubblebath. She developed a ton of manual dexterity in the tub, and was able to master measuring this way without using up all my ingredients. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of toothpaste, and brush your teeth. Measure one Tablespoon of fluoride rinse. I'd have her measure soda and salt into her bath, too. Got her a syringe to measure water with, too. How many cc's are in a teaspoon? How many cc's are in a Tablespoon?

The tub is a wonderful place to practice measurement:) Mistakes are no big deal, and you can practice over and over till your heart's content.

Artmama
03-27-2015, 12:59 AM
Maybe poke around on the Edible School Yard web site for ideas... I have been to a couple of their workshops here in NYC and they are great. The resource page is here: https://edibleschoolyard.org/resources-tools