Childcare cooking activities for toddlers

Benefits of Cooking Activities for Toddlers in Childcare

Cooking activities for toddlers in childcare is now considered a fantastic way to help shape the development of children in early childhood. Put simply, the major benefit are gained through assisting preschoolers in becoming acquainted with and using some basic mathematics and language skills. Being involved in cooking will also help children to develop self confidence as well as introducing them to healthy eating concepts and habits that are consistent with the Kids Kinder childcare menu.

Cooking Activities for Toddlers In Childcare

two young twin boys playing with cooking ingredients and implements on the floor

There are two things to consider when arranging cooking activities for toddlers in childcare – the first is that all activities should be fun and engaging and the second is that the planned activities for the child should be age appropriate.

The team at Kids Kinder put a lot of time and energy into ensuring that all cooking activities are going to be fun for all children and are structured to involve all ages participating in the activity. We understand the important link between healthy eating and participating in the growth and preparation of healthy nutritious meals.

When cooking with toddlers we ensure that activities are structured in line with a child’s age.

Accordingly they will be structured in line with these parameters: 

  • Two year olds are still developing the muscles in their upper arms. They can be involved in such activities as washing and tearing up green vegetables, scrubbing fruit and vegetables and carrying unbreakable items to tables
  • Three year olds are becoming proficient at using their hands and can be trusted with such activities as mixing batter or other ingredients together, pouring liquids, kneading dough, washing fruit and vegetables, serving food, and disposing of trash after cooking
  • Four year olds are beginning to master their fine motor skills. They should be able to measure dry ingredients, juice fruits, peel fruit and vegetables, cut some fruit or vegetables, mix ingredients, as well as setting and clearing the table and cleaning the table after cooking

Benefits of Cooking in Early Childhood

Cooking is a great way to involve children in many different developmental activities while simultaneously entertaining them. Some of the key benefits of cooking in early childhood include:

  • Improved social and emotional development. Being involved in hands on cooking activities helps to build cooking skills and develop self confidence. Learning to follow recipes helps the children to learn to act independently. Being involved in cooking and recipes will help children to learn to follow directions. 
  • Cooking aids a child’s cognitive development in numerous ways, encouraging them to think, problem solve and create. It also helps them to apply knowledge in a practical way by counting, measuring and following directions 
  • Encouraging language development as children will talk about their experiences and express their observations.

Cooking helps lead to positive development

a young girl in a chef's costume playing with fruits and vegetables

Properly structured cooking activities for toddlers can positively aid their development. Professional nurturing while cooking with toddlers can result in positive development in the following ways:

  • Children are naturally curious and the cooking process is bound to stimulate that curiosity in a variety of ways. This stimulation leads to analytical thinking and problem solving. The cooking process offers children opportunities to predict and observe as well as to count, measure, organise and follow recipes.
  • The unique vocabulary used in the cooking process helps to develop children’s language skills. These skills can be nurtured by using recipe cards and asking questions about cooking experiences to stimulate discussion. This can be built on further by using children’s literature to complement their learning in cooking activities.

The carer’s role

At Kids Kinder, we understand the importance of the carer’s role while running toddler cooking sessions or toddler cooking games. The carer must be involved in ensuring that the entire activity is conducted in a safe environment. Safety extends beyond ensuring that children are not going to get hurt during the cooking activity but also ensuring that the food is handled in a safe, sanitary fashion. Hand washing should be an integral part of this process.

Once the cooking activity is underway, the carer while keeping a wary eye on safety procedures, should engage the children by talking to them, describing the process clearly and asking relevant questions. This time can be used to get children to think and problem solve.

Things to keep in mind

When undertaking cooking activities for toddlers in childcare, safety needs to be at the forefront of your mind. This includes:

  • A specific area should be set aside for food preparation
  • The food preparation area should be a non-absorbent table that has been sanitised prior to use
  • A good supply of cooking implements (preferably plastic) should be on hand
  • Any food prepared should be eaten on the same day
  • Keeping all electrical appliances and cords out of the reach of children
  • Keep all foods stored in sealed containers out of the reach of children until you want to use them
  • Keep all foods at the appropriate temperature. Cold food should be kept refrigerated at or below 4 degrees Celsius while hot food should be kept warm at around 60 degrees Celsius. Use a metal stem thermometer to check these temperatures.
  • Use pasteurised egg products instead of raw eggs wherever possible

Some children’s cooking activity ideas

The key to formulating children’s cooking activity ideas means keeping in mind that whatever the cooking activity is, it should be fun for the children.

Keeping this in mind, here are some ideas to use when planning cooking activities.

  • Wherever possible use fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season when selecting recipes to be prepared.
  • Recipes can connect with other childcare activities. A garden is helpful in this regard, as children move from watching seeds grow right through to harvesting their fruit and cooking them
  •  Books complementing the food cooking sessions can be used to reinforce the activity.

Cooking activities for toddlers in childcare can be fun and are only limited by your imagination!