Wednesday, 16 July 2014

little monsters in the kitchen

We LOVE Pinterest and we do really mean LOVE!!
We stumbled upon an Infographic from CookSmarts
Full Infographic found here

At first glance it looked great! What an amazing tool to get kids involved in the kitchen! But on second glance, we were a little disappointed. The Toddler’s (in blue) & 4-7 YRS (in green) were left out in a lot of the areas that we’ve seen them thrive in!
After checking out Cook Smarts’s website (which is a truly fantastic recourse for gaining confidence in the kitchen and learning new tricks and recipes), we’ve come to the conclusion that maybe early years isn’t their specialty. So we’ll forgive them and support their case by highlighting what Toddler’s and 4-7 year olds should be allowed to do in the kitchen.
It’s all about empowering your little monster! The act of empowering a child is not only supporting and encouraging them to believe in their abilities, but also to give them plenty of opportunities to feel powerful about what they can accomplish. I find the best way to do this, is by giving a child the time to do things for themselves.
In saying that, this is what we added to the Infographic-

Encouraging your little monsters to add, take away, scoop, pour
& observe, they’re gaining so much more out of the experience!
Original Infographic found here
Cooking and baking is an amazing way to introduce volume & weight in the early years. We understand why adding pre-measured ingredients might be suggested for the toddler age, but you’re not adding any valuable learning experiences for your toddler. You see them adding (and taking away) all the time naturally- you know when they clean up their blocks and then dump them ALL back onto the floor!
Empower your toddlers and give them opportunity to scoop and measure out at least one ingredient! “We need two spoonfuls of flour, can you scoop out two spoonfuls into the blow for me?” If you’re too nerves about the correct measurements, give them their own bowl to scoop in and then you can add/take away before adding what they measured out!
We also think ALL age groups should be involved in the “scale and adjust ingredients”! When we add ingredients to the scale with our little monsters in the early years, we get them to count out loud or talk about what we’re adding - “Who knows what I’m adding now?” or best of all get them to use their imaginations when the Icing Sugar floats into the air – “It’s snowing”!! When we’re looking at exacted measurements and we’ve added too much, we say out loud “We have a little too much. We need to take some away.” and then get one of the kids to take a little away with a spoon- this works with adding too! OR you can pre-measure the ingredients into small bowls and get the kids to measure out before you add them all together. 
So you see, by encouraging your little monsters to add, take away, scoop, pour & observe, they’re gaining so much more out of the experience! Don’t under estimate what skills and lessons your little monster can learn at a young age. Be brave as a parent too, it’s defiantly going to be a slower process and a bit messier, but what your little monster will gain from it if immeasurable (Pun intended)!!!

Teach your toddler about being gentle and kind!
Original Infographic found here
Prepping and chopping is an amazing way for your little monster to work on their small gross motor skills, learn about the dangers associated with sharp objects and how to use them safely, as well as interact with foods they love (and don't love)! When little monster are able to handle & play with food, the food becomes less scary and after a while many kids will start to try new foods!
We think toddlers are GREAT at tearing things, so why exclude them from what they're great at!?! The important lesson here, is that you can teach your toddler about being gentle and kind, to slowly rip and tear. This is something that many toddlers need practice with (and some 4-7 year olds)!
For many toddler, scissors & knifes (especially knifes) do not go in the same sentence. But look, it's not like we're saying give your little monster scissors or a knife and let them RUN free. Obviously this is a controlled activity and your child should be sitting down comfortably and safely at the table and shown how to use these tools properly (which in our experience, this takes time, patience and practice)! We've taught 3-4 year olds to peel potatoes and cut up peppers and cucumbers with a kids knife and even our 2-3 year olds have got involved. Your little monster can do it, all you have to do is give the time and the opportunity!
Now in saying all that, if your little monster is a wiz in the kitchen at a young age and YOU feel confident in allowing them to use a regular knife, then that's great! Our tips on regular knifes- Again, obviously this is not a running wild activity, set your little monster up in a safe, sturdy and comfortable area and make sure the knife is suitable for little hands, meaning size of the knife handle.
And last, but definitely not lest. There's a high chance that your little monster will nick themselves at some stage! It happens to the best of us - One of my friends ( a mother of 2) nicked herself badly and then did it AGAIN exactly one year later (she did not lose her finger, but hand to go to the ER both times). Accidents happen, it's part of life. Make sure your little monster is using a suitable knife for their abilities, follow ours tips above and have confidence in yourself and in them!

Not only are they developing on important
movement skills, but also being introduced to science.
Original Infographic found here
Our big add in this section is for the Toddlers! Stirring and Shaking are amazing opportunities for your little monster to gain control and improve on their large gross motor skills! They LOVE doing these kind of motions and defiantly enjoy getting involved! We would go as far to say, if there's one thing to allow your child to do during a cooking/baking activity it's this! Not only are they developing on important movement skills, but also being introduced to science - solid into liquid, wet and dry, soft and hard (and so on) - their amazement is priceless! If what your making needs a certain type of mixing that your little monster is unable to do, give them a bowl (with some ingredients in it) and a spoon and give them the opportunity to mix beside you- simples!
If your little monster has been helping out in the kitchen from a young age, they probable have the ability to make a part of the meal on their own! One 4 1/2 year we know, has been helping her family in the kitchen from a young age and her mom told us: "Other than needing support near the hot elements, she can make a Spaghetti Bolognese by herself!" And we believe it as, this 4 1/2 year old loves helping out in our cooking activities and is very handy with a kid's knife!

It's ALL about giving your little monsters the opportunities to become confident in the kitchen!

Give your little monsters time to explore in the kitchen, by giving them their own bowl and ingredients!
Once again, we would like to say we do LOVE what CookSmarts is doing! If you're not confident in the kitchen Cook Smarts is a great resource! Once you have gained your confidence in the kitchen or are already there, we do hope that we've inspired you to empower your little monsters and help them gain their confidence in the kitchen!

We do LOVE this Infographic CookSmarts created to involve your little monsters in the kitchen!

Other great post on Empowering your little monsters-

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