Hi there! I’m in the middle of my “Summer with Kids” series, and in the last few posts, I’ve talked about how I’ve gotten our summer all lined out. Today, I’m going to transition into talking about activities, starting with some kitchen fun.
I mentioned in my last post, we had our kids in rapid succession, and because of this close spacing, all the life education opportunities for each have kind of occurred at the same time. This summer, one of my goals is for them to each acquire some basic cooking skills—not that I want my kids scrambling their own eggs, but the knowledge that comes from cooking can be applied almost anywhere in life. (I even made a handy printable of kitchen activities for kids here, for your own summer binder, if you’d like to join me in taking this approach).
One question I’ve gotten is at what age are certain kitchen activities appropriate? I have a few suggestions surrounding age-related activities but want to make one side note, first. All cooking with kids is MESSY. It drives me nuts, but there’s no way around it. The cookies will not turn out the perfect shape, and there will always be flour EVERYWHERE. But this is part of why kids love cooking, and so I would encourage you (like I encourage myself) to not be frustrated by the mess. We’re trying to create happy memories, right?
For children ages 2-5, give them tasks that are simple and short (but messy, always messy). This could be pouring ingredients, mixing and stirring, measuring ingredients, using a dull knife to cut soft fruits and veggies, rolling out dough, making peanut butter and jelly (oh, the mess is making me stress even just writing this), or ham and cheese sandwiches, using cookie cutters, and helping wash non-breakable dishes. We waited way too long to get a step stool at our house, but when we did, it was amazing how the kids felt empowered to help.
For children ages 5-8, it’s time to introduce the skill of cracking eggs, using a mixer, using the microwave, using small paring knives, boiling water, and maybe even making grilled cheese or scrambling eggs. My kids also enjoy anything related to icing. I’ve noticed that with my kids, they don’t always have the strength to use some things like a hand mixer or can opener, but I always let them try. And it’s always messy. I steer clear of the cheese grater at this age, however. I’ve had too many personal bad experiences!
For ages 8-12, it’s time to learn how to formally use a larger knife to prep food. You can download my Knife Skills printable here for your kids. We are starting to practice things like turning on the oven, putting things in, taking them out, and setting a timer. While my kids are still young, from here we will move into some easy recipes, like soups, baking, waffles, pancakes, and rice. At this age, I’m steering clear of anything involving handling raw meats, and I’d recommend supervising at all times.
For ages 13 and up, I’m hoping I can relax a bit on supervision. At this age, kids should be able to use all appliances. I’ve noticed working with teens that explanation is still good—don’t expect them to figure it out on their own. Not only should they be able to chop, but knowing how to mince, dice, slice, should all be a part of their growing chef repertoire. At this age, I plan on cautiously introducing frying, grilling, and stressing the importance of cleaning up these bigger messes.
I’ve created a great knife skills printable here in case your kids are at an appropriate age to start learning that new kitchen skill this summer!
In my upcoming posts, I’m sharing several recipes we’ve used at our house to teach kids some cooking skills!