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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Michelle Stern as a guest writer here at Gift of Curiosity. Michelle writes the blog What’s Cooking with Kids, which is all about getting kids involved with cooking to promote a healthy body, a healthy planet, and a healthy community.
Today she is sharing some ideas for helping kids learn math, literacy, and science in the kitchen. And be sure to grab a copy of the free printable she’s offering at the end of this post!
Learning in the kitchen
After 16 years combined of teaching high school biology and cooking classes to children, two things are abundantly clear: kids love to eat, and the kitchen is one of the best places for children to learn!
Not only do children become self-confident, healthy eaters by cooking, but they also get to learn and practice academic content at the same time. Here are some examples:
- Recipes encourage kids to practice symbol recognition, language patterns, and sequences.
- Children are exposed to new vocabulary, ranging from kitchen tools and ingredients to cooking strategies and methods.
- Recipes help kids pay attention to directions – in both oral and written form.
- In the kitchen, kids get the opportunity to classify, measure, count, estimate, and recognize numbers and fractions in a practical and “real-life” setting…with an edible outcome!
- The kitchen is the ideal laboratory! Kids can ask questions, observe, investigate and experiment.
- Cooking allows students the opportunity to predict and compare outcomes.
- Students can explore how ingredients and mixtures change: mixing, blending, freezing, melting, boiling, baking, shredding, etc…
Here are some steps you can take to help your kids practice language, math, and science skills in the kitchen:
- With your kids, read through the applesauce recipe below.
- Are your kids willing to be scientists for a little while? If so – see if they have any suggestions for changing up the recipe a little bit.
- For example – make the recipe one time with one variety of apples, and then try it again using a different variety (or even a combination of apples!).
- Brown sugar is an excellent sweetener – but what would happen if you used honey instead?
- Have your little scientists predict what would happen to the cooking time if you cut the apples into smaller chunks vs. larger chunks.
- Can your young chefs arrange the ingredients alphabetically?
- Measure all of the ingredients, and then organize them by smallest quantity to largest.
A is for Applesauce
- 3 pounds apples
- 1 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp. salt
- Wash the apples. You can even use dish soap, as long as you rinse them well.
- Cut the apples with a knife, wedger, or apple peeler/corer/slicer.
- Compost the core and peels or feed them to your chickens.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel 4 strips of rind from the lemon. (You will notice that the white part is left behind – and that’s a good thing. It tastes bitter.)
- Cut the lemon in half.
- Juice the lemon. You can use a juicer or reamer, or you can squeeze by it by hand.
- Measure 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl.
- Measure the brown sugar and add it to the lemon juice.
- Measure the salt and add to the lemon juice and brown sugar.
- Put the pieces of apple, the contents of the lemon juice bowl, 1 cup of water, and a cinnamon stick into a crockpot or slow cooker*.
- Cook on high for 3 hours.
- Allow to cool before serving.
*Note: If you don’t have a crockpot or slow cooker, you can cook the applesauce in a heavy-bottomed pot on your stove. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Printable Produce Passport
Food education isn’t limited to the kitchen! Take this printable Produce Passport with you to the grocery store and see which ingredients they can find that start with the letters A and B.
You can print multiple copies of the Produce Passport and look for different foods on each visit! Not only will the kids be doing something productive while you shop, but they will develop a new awareness of the foods around them.
And if you enjoy this activity, you’ll love my Cook the Alphabet lesson series for preschool through first grade. On that page you can grab a free copy of my B is for Broccoli Activity Bundle.
Visit Michelle online: website: What’s Cooking with Kids, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat: michellejstern.