How do you get kids to get excited about food and perhaps even try new foods? Get them into the kitchen, of course. Baking with kids exposes them to the process behind a finished cake or casserole and gives them a tangible reward after toiling away over mixing bowls and measuring spoons.
The reality of cooking with kids may not always be pretty, with lots of “oops” and cracked eggshells and messes to clean up. However, cooking and baking with kids can also be hugely rewarding, for both parents and kids alike.
The Kitchen as a Learning Laboratory
Think of your kitchen as your own compact classroom. In one spot you can teach kids the science behind what each ingredient does for the recipe, practice math by teaching fractions with quarter-cups and division with portioning, and even some history, especially if the recipe is a cultural or family favorite.
Baking with kids also helps them get more in tune with their own bodies and their five senses. Having children test a recipe, reflect on what they taste or smell, and decide whether it needs more of this ingredient or that is a powerful way to remind them to slow down and eat more mindfully. Even if the finished product ended up with too much salt or not enough stirring, that’s information to note and try differently next time – just like any good scientist in the lab.
Being Safe When Baking with Kids
With hot surfaces, sharp knives and breakable glass, it can be nerve-wracking at first to allow kids some control in the kitchen. However, just like letting a baby take its first steps, parents are there to watch, let the child fall and then help them get back up again. The same idea applies to the kitchen – keep your children under your watchful eye but allow them to bumble a little bit. They will learn from mistakes and feel empowered once they see the results of their hard work.
When it comes to tasks you can let kids do on their own, it’s best to start small and work their way up until they’re making after school snacks for kids on their own! Easy things for small hands could include stirring the batter, pouring pre-measured ingredients, layering parfaits and taste-testing. As kids progress, they can measure ingredients themselves, crack eggs and use cookie cutters. Older kids may be able to use sharp knives to prep ingredients and use the oven or stovetop. Only the most trusted and able children should handle boiling water and taking things out of the oven.
Cooking and Baking Recipes for Kids
Here are some fun baking recipes for kids that the whole family can enjoy, or as after school snacks for kids:
Breakfast Yogurt Parfait – This simple, tasty recipe requires no cooking equipment, just mixing and layering for a nutrient-packed breakfast parfait to help start the day right.
Sloppy Joes – Let kids make dinner with this veggie-loaded, beef-based sloppy joe recipe.
Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers – This perennial kid favorite gets a healthy makeover by baking the chicken, not frying it.
Toaster Oven Pizza – Making personalized pizzas are fun after school snacks for kids that older ones can make for themselves.
Iced Oatmeal Cookies – Who doesn’t love to bake cookies? These oatmeal cookies use fiber-rich oats as the main ingredient, plus applesauce to replace some of the butter. Add raisins for an extra burst of fruit and sweetness.
Ninja Turtle Muffins – Go ahead and play with your food! These spinach and vegetable muffins are a great way to get your children to eat more vegetables (the chocolate chips and candy eyes don’t hurt, either!)
Whether you’re looking for something fun to do while staying indoors or simply looking for new ways to spend quality time with your family, baking with kids is a great way to get them engaged.
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