It’s that time again. Time to start thinking about what to do with the kids over the summer. I know, I know, it’s only April. But I just checked my calendar and summer break is less than 10 weeks away. That may have caused a bit of a panic attack on my part. But I’m sure I can handle it. After all, this won’t be my first time home alone with the kids.
That was last summer. It started off with the best of intentions. I was going to make special memories with my oldest daughter, T. There were so many planned activities…most of which didn’t happen (thanks pregnancy). But we were sure to check off at least one item on our list: we turned one special week into at-home cooking camp. Together, T and I created an outline for the recipes we would make, and what else we would do to focus a few hours each day on teaching her the basics of cooking.
Not only did we live to survive it, but we both had a lot of fun! She’s even asked to have another at-home kids cooking camp this summer. And all it took to make kids’ cooking camp a success was a little bit of planning and some creativity.
Kids Cooking Camp Tips
- Let the kids help choose the recipes. I still remember my first cookbook and how I would make recipe after recipe for my family from it. The Husband even has a few of his old kids cookbooks. Purchase or find an old kids’ cookbook for the two of you to browse. Or just search the internet…it’s full of kid-friendly recipes.
- Think beyond the kitchen. We started each day by watching one or two YouTube videos of kids cooking shows. The videos are usually very short, but it was fun to spend time together finding our favorite kids’ cooking channels and seeing what other kids were making. I also think that seeing other kids being successful in the kitchen gave T the confidence that she could do these things too.
- Create a theme for each day. We had open-ended daily themes for each day of the week last summer (Wander Somewhere Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, etc.) These themes got incorporated into cooking camp, and really made us get creative!
- Know your child’s maturity level. Toddlers and little kids can help with measuring, simple stirring, and assembling platters. At age 5, T was ready to use a paring knife, learn how to crack eggs, and how to work the oven. Now that she’s 6, she can move up to using things like a utility knife, and placing items carefully in the oven. Each child will be different, and it’s up to you to know your child’s limits.
- Sneak in some learning…but don’t push it too hard. Cooking is a combination of science and artistry. You can always reinforce addition and fractions when measuring out ingredients. But don’t be afraid to take it further. Find a recipe or two that involves a clear chemical reaction (this lavender lemonade recipe is a fun one), take a field trip to a farm, or to a local factory that offers tours.
- Let the kids cook at least one meal on their own. Our original plan included a meal completely prepared and cooked by T on the last day of our camp. Then the Husband got her excited and she ended up picking out a grilled whole fish recipe to cook for the family. Clearly that included quite a bit of parental involvement, but she did everything she could. There are plenty of meals that kids can make, including salads, sandwiches, and some pizza recipes.
- Don’t forget the basics. Every time we got started cooking I remembered to emphasize cleanliness and safety. Wash hands, pull long hair back, and don’t be silly with the knives.
- Have fun! Add in some things just for fun, colorful kitchen equipment (I’ve been eyeing some fun measuring spoons, and a fun whisk) and kid-sized aprons and chefs hats make the experience extra fun for the kids.
We had a lot of fun doing this camp together last year. Unfortunately, we had to cut our week short due to a family emergency, but we were able to get at least four fun days of cooking in together. T has even asked to have another kids cooking camp this summer. It’s time to get started looking at more kid-friendly recipes!
P.S. Don’t forget to come back for more on our at-home kids cooking camp! In between One Room Challenge posts, I’ll be sharing a few of the kid-friendly recipes that we made together and other tips on cooking with kids.
How do you get kids involved in the kitchen?
What is your favorite kid-friendly recipe?
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