The challenge of cooking in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on September 24, 2010

in Cooking, motor skills, Physical Development, Professional Development, The Value of Play

Cooking in preschool can be a challenging process – especially when you have 1 teacher to 10 three year olds.

Every one wants a turn to stir, pour, crack an egg, and everyone wants to stick their finger in the batter no matter how many times they are told that they need to keep their hands on the outside of the bowl:)

But even with all of these challenges, these brave teachers invest the time and energy in letting their children experience the process of cooking.

Each child participated in some part of the process but as I observed this classroom, my mind began to swirl with ideas for how we could help the children be even more involved.

I thought that perhaps after the big bowl is all mixed up, we could give each child a small cup and spoon of their own – fill it with batter – and let them mix it up.

I thought that perhaps we could divide the 1 cup of water the recipe called for into 10 small parts so each child could do a little pouring.

Then I thought that perhaps we could let everyone crack an egg in some other bowl just for fun while we save two for the recipe – what’s a dozen eggs!

I thought that perhaps each child could pour their own little cup of batter into their cupcake holder.

And then I just stopped thinking for a minute and started listening and watching. This little one was fascinated by the cupcake holders – stacking, unstacking, and dropping them in the pan.

I think just playing with cupcake holders and the pans would have been quite engaging by itself.

What this entire process reminded me of is why it is so important that we don’t just depend on a cooking activity to help children learn how to measure, pour, stir, and take a turn. These skills are something we can work on everyday through activities like water play, sand play, fine motor play, and other experiences.

The children were eager to participate in this cooking and they enjoyed the part they played. Although I always wonder if we can do more, I still saw that it was a success in every way. Of course, the results of getting a yummy snack later is a great reward too!

I want to try new ideas for getting the kids more involved but I realized today that cooking is a great way to assess the skills our students are developing and a terrific reminder to make sure we are providing them with ample opportunities through their play to develop all the skills they need in daily living.

But, if you have ideas to offer up as to how to make the process more interactive – I would love to hear them!

See this post on 6 Things Children Learn from Cooking from Waddlee-ah-chaa!

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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