Read About Food
Turn your young bookworm into a foody! Pick up some cookbooks for kids
and food-themed children's books like Eric Carle's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar
. Reading about food will get kids' tummies rumbling and culinary imaginations soaring.
Hand Over the Ingredients
Children as young as age 2 can help put the groceries away. Ask your child to hand you items from the bag, and ask her where it goes (cabinet, refrigerator, etc.) As your child gets older, she can help place your groceries in their appropriate spots.
Rinse the Veggies
If your child loves the faucet, as most little kids do, why not let him help rinse off your vegetables for dinner? Show him how to scrub each vegetable, and turn it into a learning experience by talking about colors, textures, and tastes.
Add and Stir Ingredients
Pouring, mixing, and stirring are all kid-friendly activities for younger children. Measure out your ingredients and let your child pour and mix them all together.
Name and Count Foods
Learning opportunities abound in the kitchen! Have your child read the recipe to you while you cook, and work on math skills by counting the number of ingredients you need.
Set the Table
While you prepare dinner, your little one can help set the table. Set out all the plates, silverware, and cups you need, and let your child set each family member's place. For an added activity, let him create name cards for each family member's place setting.
Older kids will love helping to crack eggs. It may take a little patience and a few spills, but in time, your little helper will be your right-hand man when it comes to whipping up goodies.
Cut Soft Foods
Starting at around age five, children are usually ready to cut some foods on their own. Start your child off with a dull butter knife and a soft fruit, such as a banana. As she cuts, talk to her about knife safety and the dangers of using one without adult supervision.
Use an Egg Beater
The use of kitchen appliances should be reserved for children ages five and older. Help your child measure and pour all the ingredients into the bowl, and then let her go to town beating them all together.
Find the Measuring Utensils
Finding the correct measuring utensils is a great math lesson for older children. Ask your child to locate the size you need, and then let him measure and pour the ingredients himself.
For more tips and ideas to let your child help out in the kitchen, visit the United States Department of Agriculture's website.