It is imperative when teaching kids to cook that it be fun and easy. One of the things that can help in this is to supply them with utensils sized to fit their hands and strength. Make this involvement fun by investing in some new utensils that they can call their own. Doing this will pique their interest and make this process easier. It is best to start by introducing them to handheld utensils first. Then take the next step to the electrical appliances.
When introducing each utensil to the youngsters, I recommend that you go through the basic procedures in your training process; demonstrate, supervise, and allow independent use. Show your child how to use each one safely, but add into the training what to do if they do become injured with the utensil. Another essential skill to teach is cleanup. They need to learn from the beginning to clean up after themselves and put utensils away.
A fundamental step in this process is getting young kids to reach a comfort level in the kitchen. I began including my kids in the cooking and cleaning process in the kitchen while they were still babies. I made sure they were within visual and hearing distance, and I talked to them about the process I was going through to achieve the meals. As I used a utensil, I would allow them to play with either it or a similar one. I told them what I was hoping to accomplish and talked about how good the meal would be. As each ingredient was added, I allowed them to see and touch and taste it. Quite honestly, many times, they were not interested, but I persisted. Slowly this process just became a routine that we continued until they left home to begin their adult lives. When they visit, we naturally gather in the kitchen and prepare meals together. We discuss new utensils and new recipes and enjoy this time together. It became a bond between us that has never broken.
A child as young as 18 months can become a good helper in your kitchen. Even if they are not adept enough to actually measure or mix, allowing them to be a part of the process is invaluable in teaching them what occurs in the kitchen to produce their meals. As they get older, it is easy to add tasks that they can complete. It is incredible when they realize that they have genuinely contributed to the meal preparation.
So many of the preparation steps allow them to use a utensil. Stirring the cake batter in a mixing bowl teaches them the use of a large spoon, and that cake will taste sweeter with all the love added. Young ones can easily rinse fruits and vegetables in preparation for cooking. They soon will feel secure in actually using a small knife to cut soft fruits and vegetables. Mixing and kneading dough and rolling out the pie crust or placing it in the bread pan are simple tasks that teach them variety and control of processes. Another idea is to allow them to use cookie cutters or biscuit cutters. Lots of skills will be learned and memories made. How about whisking the pancake batter? Breakfast will be much tastier, and they will have learned to use another utensil. Allowing them to measure and pour the liquid and dry ingredients in a recipe maintains their math lessons and develop hand-to-eye coordination and balance. If they can spread the butter on Daddy’s toast, I guarantee it will bring great joy as well as reinforce coordination.
Utensils you might want to invest in are lightly weighted and made from wood or plastic. These can surely help kids quickly learn to use them. Stirring spoons, strainers or colanders, a whisk, measuring spoons and cups, spatulas are just a few of the first items they will need to learn to use in cooking processes. It will be easy to add items such as graters, peelers, apple corers, food choppers, and bread knives as they mature.
By the time your kids are 12-years-old, they most certainly should be able to use the regular kitchen utensils that you use. Before that age, you might want to invest in some cooking utensils specially designed for their smaller hands and less-developed coordination. Less frustration in the operation of a process results in satisfied children and can go a long way toward building a love of working their magic in the kitchen. Below, I have listed a few available choices to easily order online, with links to help you shop quickly.
- Long handles wooden spoons aid in keeping their hands and bodies farther away from the heat of the stove. These are great when teaching them how to make soups and for boiling foods such as pasta. Amazon.com: Extra Long Handled Cooking Utensils – 16″ Inch Wooden Mixing Spoon & Spatula – Stirring Paddle – Organic Bamboo EcoFriendly Compostable Wood Kitchen High Heat Resistant Great For Large Stock Pots: Kitchen & Dining
- Teaching knife skills to kids is another crucial step in completing their level of expertise in the kitchen; however, it is not always the easiest to accomplish. Kids don’t have the fully developed motor skills it takes for handling dangerous cutlery. A great idea is to teach the these skills and techniques and safety practices with nylon knives. Because these knives are shaped just like your regular knives, the kids can learn to hold and use properly while maintaining another level of safety. Amazon.com: Penta Angel 3 Colors Plastic Knife Set 3 Sizes Nylon Knife Safety Cooking Chef Knives for Fruit Lettuce Vegetable Salad Bread (3 Colors): Kitchen & Dining
- When scooping foods out of bowls, spreading frosting, wipping scrambled eggs and so many other things, the perfect tools are spatulas. For smaller hands, it is nice to have a set of mini spatulas that fit well and therefore work better. Amazon.com: Mini Spatulas Set – 10 Piece Heat Resistant Silicone Spatula – Pro-Grade Multipurpose Kitchen Tool for Baking, Cooking, Mixing, and More – Non-Stick, Dishwasher Safe Bright and Colorful Spatulas: Kitchen & Dining
- At the time your kids are secure in placing their creations in the oven or handling any of the potentially hot pans, it is crucial that the oven mitts they use fit properly. Adult sized ones don’t let them get a good grip and will be clumsy and unsafe. The last thing any of us want is a burned child. Talk about stopping the desire to learn in a heartbeat! These cute little gloves will fit small hands perfectly. Amazon.com: Curious Chef Children’s Chef Oven Mitt Set: Oven Mitts: Kitchen & Dining
- Measuring, whether it be cups or spoons, is a necessary skill for kids to learn. While learning this process, they are also supplementing their knowledge of math. There are more versions of these particular utensils than I can count, as the saying goes! For children I prefer to use colorful plastic ones. They are both easy to handle and inviting to their visual senses. Just be patient with them and let them practice with both liquid and dry ingredients. It will be fun! Amazon.com: Farberware Color Measuring Spoons, Mixed Colors, Set of 5: Kitchen & Dining and Amazon.com: Farberware Professional Plastic Measuring Cups with Coffee Spoon, Set of 5, Assorted Colors: Kitchen & Dining
- Of course, I prefer my set of stainless steel mixing bowls, but let’s concentrate on keeping it fun and colorful for our little junior chefs in training.This mixing bowls set I have suggested is an awesome set for the kids to use in their cooking adventures. It includes 2 mixing bowls, 1 sieve, 1 strainer, 6 colorful measuring cups and all of the pieces of the set nestle together for compact storage. Amazon.com: Mixing Bowl Set – Colorful Kitchen Bowls Colander Mesh Strainer Plastic Nesting Bowls – with Easy Pour Spout, Colorful, Measure Cups, and Spoons – for Baking, Cooking, and More: Home & Kitchen
So, what about a cooking weekend? Gather the recipes. Gather the utensils. Gather the kids.
Begin your journey into the world of cooking with kids and make memories that will last a lifetime.