Even very young children can help with easy kitchen tasks and it’s amazing what older kids can do.
Cooking and baking can provide opportunities for learning as well:
- Measuring helps with math skills
- Introducing foods from other cultures can aid studies of geography, history, and literature
- Reading recipes is a fun alternative to reading textbooks
- Being in the kitchen together is also a way to spend time with your kids
For kids who are less than enthusiastic about learning to cook/bake, it might be helpful to start with videos about kids who are having fun in the kitchen. There are many such videos available on YouTube….these are just a few.
- The Bow Girls – Cooking with Briena and Brittany. The show started with just Briena in 2014 when she was 7 years old and continued for 6 years. In year two she included her younger sister Brittany as well. There is a very authentic vibe to these videos – they are not over-produced and edited. The girls are adorable and focus on foods that are very kid-friendly – unicorn cupcakes, lots of pink and purple, glitter. The show moves very slowly so it’s easy to understand and follow the steps. May be a little difficult for adults to stick with (!) but I think young kids would find it entertaining and easy to replicate.
- Charli’s Crafty Kitchen. This show also features two sisters – Charli and younger sister Astrid. These Australian kids are more sophisticated in their presentations. They are a little older and seem to be more adult in their videos. They focus mostly on sweets – not so much interest in healthy foods – and often include trips to buy Halloween costumes, craft stores, etc.
Food Competitions. As an adult who enjoys watching the extraordinary talent of many of these young competitors, I think it should stimulate interest and the competitive juices in many kids as well.
- MasterChef Junior. Hosted by Gordon Ramsay and assorted other guest chefs, this show is a close copy of its adult predecessors. There are seven seasons currently available on YouTube and they are great fun to watch. The production values are glossy and adult. The contestants, generally 9 – 13 are amazingly adult in their demeanors and skill sets. Many speak about becoming chefs and restauranteurs, but there is still the occasional delight of the kid who wants to play professional baseball or be a scientist. The adult chefs tend to be very honest in their critiques of the young competitors, sometimes reducing them to tears. But a case can be made that they are learning that, in life, you don’t always win, you make mistakes and, yet, survive. The prize is $100,000 – maybe not so realistic since relatively few people in the food industry make that kind of money.
- Chopped Junior. If you’re a fan of the adult version, you know what this show is. Four contestants, three judges (all professional chefs), one mystery basket. Each round the competitors must create a specific type of food (appetizer, entrée, dessert) from the ingredients found in the basket. The ingredients are often bizarre (lamb for dessert?) just like in the adult version. There are nine seasons available on YouTube and they’re really amazing – these kids can cook! The judges tend to be gentle in their rebuffs, although generally pretty candid. The prize is $10,000 – nothing to sneeze