Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cooking with Kinders!

Let's be honest, for some, this is a VERY scary thought! Cooking with that MANY children?! In the CLASSROOM?! That has the potential to be a tsunami-scale mess!

Stay with me for a second here and let's look at this from a positive perspective...

Cooking in Kindergarten:
  • allows children to use all FIVE of their senses;
  • provides nutritional value to the children;
  • provides growth in the physical, social/emotional, language and cognitive developmental domains;
  • links to the health & physical activity, science & technology, personal & social development, mathematics and language areas of the curriculum;
  • begins to teach them life skills;
  • provides opportunities for questions and inquiries to come about during the time in the kitchen or around the table, just like at home;
  • allows the children to make connections between home, school and their community;
  • provides the opportunity for the children to explore new foods and develop their tastes.
I have made this handy little sheet just to show you HOW MUCH cooking is linked to our curriculum:

You can download and print your own copy right here:

Let me give you some quick examples of how cooking really does encompass a lot of our curriculum.

  • Investigating gardening and farming, where does our food come from?;
  • Making predictions and observations before and after cooking;
  • Changing from liquids to solids: We added milk, water or oil to the recipe, what happened when we cooked it?;
  • Food and cooking safety practices.
  • Counting as we measure or add-in the ingredients;
  • Estimating how much it will take before we measure, or how many (e.g how many raisins in 1/2 cup?);
  • Noticing shapes within our food;
  • Measuring out the ingredients.
  • Reading the recipe and following the directions;
  • Using vocabulary related to cooking;
  • Writing out our recipes and shopping lists;
  • Reading cookbooks;
  • Talking and asking questions.
  • Mixing or kneading the ingredients;
  • Smelling the different foods and spices, tasting the recipe;
  • Feeling the different textures of the ingredients.
Health & Physical Activity:
  • Exploring what is nutritious, why it is good for our bodies, why eating healthy is beneficial;
  • Ensuring we wash our hands before and after cooking (and any time we need to in between), why we do this, how we can transfer germs into our food and to others;
  • Developing our fine motor skills by using the small cups and spoons to measure, balance and pour, counting out the little ingredients.
Personal/Social/Emotional Development:
  • Learning to take turns while preparing the recipe and during the conversations that happen;
  • Learning to work together within a small or large group to help prepare the recipe;
  • Being able to make a connection between home and school about the foods we are using, what they cook at home and sharing any special meals that they may have;
  • Willing to try new foods or ingredients that they may have never tried previously;
  • Talking about the foods they like and do not like.
What I really love about cooking is the conversations and the inquiry that comes about during it. We have explored so many of these topics just from one simple activity:
  • Where does food come from? (This leads into fruits, vegetables, farms, grocery stores etc.);
  • Why do we have to cook it?;
  • We have this at home but my mom/dad/grandma/grandpa makes it different... (This leads into recipes, variations, bringing in recipes from home or even the family member to come make it with us);
  • Favourite and least favourite foods, what we like and do not like about them (This often turns into a graphing activity);
  • Field trips to grocery stores, restaurants, farms, a family members vegetable garden;
  • Growing our own vegetables in the class to cook with;
  • Different family meals (One of my favourites because it usually leads to multicultural foods).
The list from this really is endless and changes with every single recipe we cook!

So, how do I cook with my kinders you ask?

It's simple really. I have found the best way to arrange a cooking activity is in small groups of about 6-8 children. This way there isn't a lot of waiting (measuring and pouring can take a LONG time with almost 30 children!) and since it can be done quite often, everyone always seems to get a turn. I also like it this way because there are some children who just aren't interested in cooking.

We arrange ourselves at a table and I have the recipe prepared on cards that are laminated so we can use dry erase markers on them. Further on in the school year as the children develop their writing and math skills, they write the ingredients on the card.

You will notice in the picture above that measuring cup and spoon are coloured in. I do this to try and show the children the measurement in picture form as well.

These were some leftover cards from making yummy Yogurt Popsicles.

Side note: I also have a pre-made set for playdough and other frequently-used sensory recipes that I printed off and created so that I am not having to re-write it each time!

If you are interested in this set it is available in my TPT store, just click on the picture below and it will take you there.


This package also includes a menu, weekly shopping form, blank recipe cards and shopping lists to add to your writing or dramatic centre and a note to parents explaining our cooking and a slip to write any ingredients you may need donated to your class. 
I hope I have convinced you that cooking with your kinders can most certainly be a fun learning experience and really should be a part of your kindergarten program!
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1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I like that you share the standards too. A few years back, I had families create their own "recipe" book the first weeks of school and put it in our house literacy center. The students dictated their own simple version "recipe" of their favorite meal/food and they created illustrations. It was a family project so some got super creative with magazine cut-outs and such. The kinders loved reading their recipes for the entire year as well as those of their peers.