Practical Life Skills for Children – Cooking
We love incorporating practical life skills into our curriculum. Cooking is a passion of mine (dishes, not so much, though). I also believe that giving children skills they can grow and build self-confidence through is important. Even more so for kids with special needs and twice exceptionalities.
We have been incorporating Montessori cooking in our home since Mr. T was around 18 months old. And now that he’s approaching 7, he adores being in the kitchen. He likes learning new terms and methods of cooking, and he even wants to start his own cooking show. We are working out the logistics on that one 😉
We have found a new resource that is incredible for teaching him how to cook, not just kid friendly recipes. The Start to Cook cookbook is a new addition that is helping both boys learn more skills in the kitchen. We’ve been using it for 2 months and the boys are both loving it.
Simple Recipes for Little Chefs
Here you can see Mr. F helping make breakfast. Gluten free cinnamon toast. Yum! This recipe calls for toasting one side of the bread first then flipping it over to add the butter/spread/we used ghee because of allergies, then adding the topping so your toast is nice and toasted on both side. Then we used fun mini-cookie cutters to create little shapes. But it’s cinnamon toast so the scraps got eaten, too! Start to Cook has a variety of recipes in the easy-for-many-ages category which is wonderful for families.
This recipe was easy and allows Mr. F, who is 4, to do “real” cooking with the stove (under supervision, of course) so he feels like he is just as much of a big boy as his brother. Also, that big gap in the front of his hair? He’s got a thing for scissors.
Recipes for Big Kids
Mr. T chose to make the Apple Berry Crisp recipe. You can see many of the steps in the photos below. This recipe is in the Fruit & Vegetables section. Another great thing about the Start to Cook book is that there is a kitchen safety section at the beginning that covers a multitude of topics like asking for help, chopping safely, cleaning as you go, etc. The beginning of each section includes tips about selecting ingredients, proper ways to prepare, specific safety tips like handling meat, etc. It really is an extraordinarily well done cookbook that makes a good addition to life skills curricula. I would say it is appropriate for children from preschool aged through 14 or 15, maybe even later if it’s someone with no experience who wants to learn the basics of cooking.
First, the crisp part was made. We used our America’s Test Kitchen gluten free four blend and Earth Balance vegan buttery spread sticks. We did goof, though, and didn’t add extra butter. The thing about gluten free baking is that the flour is uber dry and always needs extra moisture. Next time we will add more butter, or melt and drizzle some on top. It was still delicious!
You are technically supposed to sift the flour, sugar, and spices together. We have never replaced my beloved sifter since having to go gluten free so we improvise with a strainer. It works, albeit being somewhat messier than a sifter.
Mr T chopped the butter up into cubes and then used his hands to squish it up into crumbles. We have a pastry cutter, but I still prefer the by hand method. Plus it’s a great sensory activity.
We used Honeycrisp apples and I cut them into quarters then Mr. T did the rest. He peeled them with our veggie peeler and was delighted I let him use a sharp object.
Then he chopped the apples (also covered in the Start to Cook book). Then he added them to the pan with the raspberries and orange juice he had just freshly squeezed.
Mr. T learned how to cut with his hand on top of the utensil using this chopper. He has never forgotten that this keeps his fingers safe and helps him control the chopping. Like any other good habits, spending time training our children how to do things properly in the kitchen is worth all the work and, in the case of cooking, messes.
The crisp topping was added to the top and we baked it according to the directions. And . . .
Tada! Doesn’t that look awesome! Mr. T was so proud of all his hard work. And friends, that dollop on top is the ever amazing So Delicious! Coco Whip topping. There are far fewer childhood things the boys miss out on because of food allergies now than there were even 3 years ago. That definitely makes our kitchen learning more fun!
Needless to say, both little chefs enjoyed their afternoon snack of fruit crisp. Who doesn’t, right?
Chef Teddy Recommends:
Linked up with iHomeschool Network’s Teaching Kids Cooking Skills linkup.