One of my fondest early memories was ‘helping’ my grandma with her baking. Standing on her special stair stool, wearing an oversized apron, getting covered with flour, eating the raw mixture from the beaters, spreading icing from one end of her kitchen to the other, then waiting impatiently for the goods to be ready.
Several years on my three year old and 18 month old love helping out in the kitchen; of course the fact that they are learning about basic nutrition and gaining valuable skills for later life is a handy bonus!
Cooking is a fantastic opportunity to extend children’s understanding of food and food preparation. Where does the milk come from? How do carrots grow? Why do biscuits spread in the oven? How many minutes should we set the timer for? What’s happening to the cake as it’s cooking? Why do liquids boil? What do you think would happen if we added more milk, baking powder, or salt? You can extend cooking fun back to other areas of play – make a recipe book, practise new-found skills at the play dough and messy play table, or recreate at home the dishes that your children have particularly enjoyed helping with in your Playcentre session.
By Sarah Barnsley