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  1. #1

    Default Cooking for kids

    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).
    Last edited by Mariam; 02-11-2014 at 03:07 AM.

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  3. #2

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    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 :-(
    Last edited by echomyst; 02-11-2014 at 01:19 AM.

  4. #3

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    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.
    Carolyn
    caretaker for quirky DD (hatched 2006)

    *************************************
    “My bed is a magical place where I remember everything i was supposed to do that day.” - unknown

  5. #4

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    Kiddo looooves cleaning rice. He has his own "knife" 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 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.
    Kiddo - 7

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived Avalon's Avatar
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    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.)

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
    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.

  8. #7

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    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.

  9. #8

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    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.
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  10. #9

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    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.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by bibiche View Post
    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.

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Cooking for kids