Keep Them Busy: 10 Things Kids Can Do in the Kitchen
Trying to get dinner on the table while watching the kids? The kitchen doesn’t need to be off-limits. Recruiting help can teach new skills, hone interests, and take some of the stress away. Plus, you’ll all have more fun. It just takes some creativity.
So the next time you’re cooking, get your children more involved with these kid-friendly activities.
- Put kids in charge of reading the recipe and setting the timer. This helps teach the valuable skills of time management and planning, while they work on their reading and public speaking skills.
- Prepping pans is an easy way for kids to help out – whether it be greasing dishes, ripping parchment paper or laying aluminum foil. Once ingredients are ready, they can set them on the pan to get a grasp of cooking logistics, like placing rolls far enough apart that they won’t cook together.
- Have your helpers count and collect ingredients. They can even measure and level flour, oil, or water with the right tools. They’ll make a real contribution in the kitchen while practicing assessment and motor skills. Just make sure they aren’t reaching for anything too heavy!
- Washing, sorting, and tearing leafy greens is another great activity for kids. After you rinse, have them remove any discolored or wilted leaves, then let them run wild removing the stems and hand-tearing the leaves.
- Even kids as young as 3 can learn to crack eggs. Use a mixing bowl instead of a small bowl so they have a bigger target and show them how to use a flat surface, like the countertop.
- So long as they know to avoid sharp edges, kids can use peelers, graters and slicers to prep fruits, vegetables and cheese. Just remember to use your best judgement when introducing your children to potentially dangerous tasks in the kitchen.
- Peeling garlic can take a while, and it’s a great way to keep small hands busy while dinner’s being made. Crush all the cloves you need gently with the broad side of a chef’s knife and show your little helpers how to peel the skins. If you have a press, they can try that too!
- Mixing, stirring, whisking, mashing and kneading is the perfect job for kids that can’t sit still. It’ll give them ownership of the meal and take advantage of that unending energy! When they’re old enough, let them control the mixer, beaters or food processor.
- On grill night, kids can do a lot. Assembling kebabs, forming burger patties and dry-rubbing chicken legs are a great way for kids to get hands-on. It also helps teach the importance of proper food handling and washing up before and after.
- Setting the table is a crucial part of the meal, and it’s entirely kid-friendly. Older children can do the heavy lifting with plates and glasses, while younger kids distribute the napkins and silverware to each setting.
As your kids get older they can take on more in the kitchen. Help them pick an easy entree (like grilled cheese) and offer to be their sous chef or make the sides. This helps them transition from helpers to cooks, building experience and confidence at the same time. Soon enough, they’ll be getting dinner on the table for you!