Did you know that cooking with your kids is a natural way for them to develop motor skills? If you've never looked at cooking that way before, think again. There's a reason why kids have a universal love for cooking - just like for stacking blocks and banging!
Cooking is especially good for preschoolers and here's how:
1. Two year olds are developing large muscles in their arms: They will enjoy stirring and stirring and stirring :-). My two year old is always asking to stir; and her subconscious knows why! At 2 years old, a child naturally imitates circular strokes as part of their normal physical development. So, let them stir at every opportunity.
Here are some ways to encourage arm muscle development through cooking:
- stirring: flour, eggs, pancake batter, gelatin making, etc.
- scrubbing potatoes and vegetables
- cleaning the cutting board: Give them a washcloth and some lukewarm water with the cutting board in the sink. They'll have a blast rubbing the wet washcloth up and down the cutting board to clean it.
- pouring from large measuring cups into a bowl
2. Two year olds are developing the ability to turn pages: Another motor skill developed during the preschool age is the ability to turn pages.
So - just pondering here. . . is it the story they love so much or just turning the pages of the book? Well, actually both. They need the motor development of turning the pages; and the pictures and vocabulary improve their intellectual development.
3. Two year olds love “patting" and “pressing": From being fascinated with “patty-cake" chants at an early age, preschooler's still love to pat and press.
I'm sure you'll recognize your preschooler doing this at the park: scooping up rocks or sand, piling them up, and patting the top into different shapes.
Well, here's some suggestions to bring the “patting" inside:
- packing down brown sugar in the measuring cup
- gently pressing a fork on top of peanut butter cookie dough on the cookie sheet
- patting to level off the top of a cup of sugar
- patting and pressing on pizza dough
- pressing down with a cookie cutter on rolled sugar cookie dough
4. Two year olds love to dip - and this develops arm muscles skills too!: it takes a lot of coordination to dip! Getting the food in the dip, then moving the arm and somehow getting it into your mouth. If it wasn't difficult, they wouldn't get food all over their face! :-)
So, unless your 2 year old always has a clean face when he or she is done eating, here's some dipping opportunities:
- carrots in salad dressing
- french fries in catsup
- dipping a spoon in the emptied batter bowl to clean out the goodies :-)
- dipping fruit in a fruit dip or chocolate (like frozen bananas or strawberries)
- dipping chicken or fish in a batter for you to cook
- dipping the bread in French toast mix
So, instead of “shooing" your preschoolers and 2 year olds out of the kitchen, let them dive in with these simple tasks that not only give them great pleasure, but help them develop their age appropriate motor skills.
About The Author
Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: “Homeschool Cooking in a Box” and the “Homeschool Cookbook”. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com