Kids Cooking: Strengthening Relationships and Growing Skills

mommeal time

I have loved being a mom and watching my two boys develop passions for various hobbies. I’ve been most intrigued by those I thought were passing phases, but became a part of them. For example, 4 years ago, my then 6 year-old son announced he wanted to be a chef when he grew up. I attributed this to our many mom-and-son-cookie-baking activities topped only by his raging love of all things sweet. But this was no passing fancy. He has since been to cooking school, has his own cooking tools and recipe books, and continues to love all things cooking related!

As I talk with other moms, I find I’m not alone. In the mom community, kids and cooking is a hot topic and most moms have at least one child who loves to cook and bake along side with them. Popular themes among moms I’ve chatted with have focused on these topics:

  • Healthy Cooking Tips
  • How to Use Cooking as a Way to Teach Math
  • How to Teach Kids Food Safety

3 Tips for Turning Cooking Into a Teaching Experience With Kids

Here’s a few quick tips my son, Chef Chase, has taught me about each of those topics.

1. Use creativity and curiosity to make healthy cooking fun! Instead of trying to sneak kids healthy foods, introduce products to them directly, but in clever ways.

One night, I brought home salmon filets. Chase had always stuck his nose up at fish. I walked in the door, enthusiastically sharing with him that salmon was one of my favorite foods and I was so excited to share it with him.

I arranged for a mom and son date with him where we made and ate the meal together. My other son and my husband were not invited (they went out on their own date!). We added some pineapple and red pepper salsa, included a small salad on the side, and planned a fabulous dessert. Ever since, we have called ourselves the salmon buddies. He requests it weekly!

2. Make up and conduct fun activities while baking. Our favorite cookies to bake during the holidays are peanut butter reindeer cookies. These require using all colors of chocolate-covered candies.
To teach math (sorting), dump the contents of one bag of candy into one bowl and have several empty bowls in a row right by it. Then, instruct your kids to sort the candies, each in a different bowl.

This is just one activity. The possibilities are endless when you think of what you can do with measuring cups (fractions), food items (shapes), doubling and tripling recipes (addition), etc.

3. Make a game out of cleaning. Chores are much more appealing when there is a game and incentive involved

At our house, we do everything in steps. We have taught our boys that food safety is the first step to becoming great chefs. They know that no matter how excited they are to pull out all of the ingredients and get started, all work surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized before and after cooking. This step will help stop the spread of germs like salmonella and E. coli and is so quick and easy for me thanks to those handy Lysol wipes. And when you have an eager little audience, time is of the essence!

With so much cooking and cleaning going on at my house it’s great to know that now it’s even easier for me to help stop the spread of germs at home, because right now Lysol is offering Buy 1 Get 1 Free packs of LYSOL Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes at major retailers nationwide through January 2011. Keep one pack at home for prep and clean-up of your culinary creations and you can even give one canister of wipes to your child’s teacher to help keep the classroom germ free too!

Once the kitchen is spic and span, let the culinary fun begin!

I am so happy that cooking has not been a passing phase for my son because as a result he is a much healthier eater. He is trying new foods and learning skills and that will benefit him throughout his life. For me the real joy of cooking has been playing, learning, and spending time together… and watching my kids eat salmon!

I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to write this post in support of Lysol’s Mission for Health Community Heroes Contest which recognizing moms who do more for health in their communities by awarding a total of $10,000 in prizes to be donated towards local community organizations. To enter, share videos, photos or stories about how you made a difference in your community at Contest entries will be judged based on both relevance to improving the health of your community, and the possible impact of your community improvement effort.

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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