If you’ve got kids, you’ll know that they simply love being involved in the kitchen. It’s usually messy, it’s usually loud and it’s almost always fun.

Cooking with small children
Decide what you’re going to cook before the time and make sure you have all the ingredients. The last thing you want is to have to think of ways to improvise when you have one, two or possibly three little ones standing in the kitchen with you. They’re all going to want their turn and want it now. So…

• Start with something simple, like cookies. Cookies are great because the little ones can mix the batter, spread it out, cut the shapes and ice the cookies when they’re done. That’s a whole afternoon of fun right there.
• Measure out the ingredients before the time. Put each ingredient in its own bowl and let your kids do the mixing.
• Prepare a space for each child. Sharing is good, but with an activity like this there will be less fighting and squealing among your kids if they each have their own bowl and wooden spoon.
• Talk to them throughout the process. Ask them what the ingredients feel like when they mix it or if they like the smell of the food. Get them actively involved in talking about the experience.
• Small kids are going to want to taste as you go along. Let them, it’s all part of the fun.

Cooking with older children
Kids love their independence. Let them each choose an item to bake or cook and let them do their do. Offer your assistance only when you see they’re really stuck and let them enjoy building their confidence in the kitchen.

• Go through the recipe books with them and let them decide what they would like to make. As an added activity, let them go with you to the store to buy the ingredients.
• Give each child a part of the counter to work on. Let them measure their own ingredients and prep their own foods. Do supervise and don’t let a young child work with any kitchen utensil alone that is dangerous.
• Talk to them about the foods they’re making, what ingredients they can use if they run out of a specific item and how to convert recipes for smaller or bigger groups.
• Have them all be part of the clean up. Even better, have them clean as they go. Make it Rule #1 – clean as you use, keep your area tidy.
• When the job is done, pop up some popcorn and sit down to a good movie you can all watch together. Make this a tradition, maybe once a week or so.

No matter whether you’re baking or cooking, enjoy it. Your kids will love the attention they’re getting and will feel super accomplished for helping you bake that cake. Get your older kids excited by letting them make supper on their own. Have them set up a restaurant and let them serve you as parents their fantastic meal.