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Kids in the Kitchen

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I'm a Mom who believes there will be rewards if I teach my kids to cook at an early age. I have the same belief about sleep training, feeding themselves, getting dressed, packing their own stuff and putting away laundry. My theory is if I give them the tools and the lessons now, I can kick back and finally enjoy that coffee one day in the near future (a girl can dream!).

However, sometimes the thought of cooking with my three kids is way more fun than the actual cooking with my kids!!! The extra patience required, the equal dividing into 3 of all the tasks, the extra mess (flour flies!) and the extra time . . .and yet somehow there is no extra help with the dishes !!!

No matter what the cost in time and patience, I still think it is important to cook with our kids, for so many reasons. The kids love the time with Mom, and for Mom its a chance to teach them about so much more than just cooking. The measuring that is involved in baking is a giant math lesson. . .finding 1/2 and adding 1/4 is big stuff! The mixing of different ingredients and how they change shape & texture in the oven is science at a level they can relate to, and teaching them the difference between folding, stirring, and whipping is like a gym workout for little arms !

Then there is cracking eggs, how much fun is that . . . who doesn't enjoy a crunchy scrambled egg!! That got me thinking of a few tips that make Kids in the Kitchen a little more fun . . .

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Tip #1 Crack eggs into a little dish on its own . . makes getting the shells out a whole lot easier!
 
Tip #2 One hand on the bowl! Especially stainless steel bowls, they spin right off the counter!
 
Tip #3 Wash their hands . . .obvious I know, but forgetting is yucky!
 
Tip #4 Teach the difference between stirring liquid (small circles) and stirring dry ingredients (big circles) . . .and have towels and a vacuum nearby!
 
Tip #5 Let 'em make a mess!! They will learn eventually, but expect messes!
 
Tip #6 Make it FUN! Anyone can stir chocolate chips into the batter, how about using the chips to decorate the top of the muffins? Make smiley faces, add a circle, or practice counting 1,2,3 chips on each cookie.
 
Tip #7 No sharp knives or hot ovens for little cooks . . but you knew that!
 
Tip #8 Get them their own supplies - mini rollers, hot pink plastic measuring cups and a personalize apron all makes it more FUN!
 
Tip #9 Take lots of pictures - nothing is as cute as kids at the kitchen counter!

 
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The pride the kids feel when the family sits down to a meal they helped make is immeasurable. My 4 year old recently made an entire chicken & veggie lasagna. I cooked the noodles and the meat and shredded cheese while she did all the stirring and assembly. Look at all the vegetables! She was so proud at dinner!

A little extra effort from us to include the kids in doing what we consider 'chores' can create valuable lessons for them. The kids are far more capable then we sometimes think and who knows, a couple lessons in the kitchen, might just turn into breakfast in bed!! I am such a dreamer!

What great things do your kids whip up in the kitchen?

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Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active. You can visit her websites to learn more www.iron-kids.com & www.adultgummies.com