Holiday time in the kitchen

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When it’s a special occasion such as a birthday or holiday, gifts don’t always have to cost a lot. Presents from the heart can mean so much more. If you love cooking, why not share this talent with your little ones? They’ll love spending time in the kitchen with you, getting their hands sticky and joining in the fun.  

Choosing your idea 

Cookbooks can be great inspiration for your holiday cooking. Look at the recipes and the pictures together and talk about what you want to make. Cooking together is a great way to spend the holidays and provides a great opportunity for your child to learn new words along the way. 

Shopping 

Encourage your child's writing skills by getting them to help you write the list of ingredients from the recipe with the correct amounts. Add any other equipment you’ll need such as paper cups, or toppings such as cachous, sprinkles or chocolate bits! Don’t skip over new words, explain them as you go.  

At the shop, ask your little one to help weigh things you need. It’s great for their numeracy and literacy, especially if they read the labels on the packets and tick them off the list. 

Cooking 

Help strengthen their gross (large) and fine (small) motor skills by allowing your little one to stir ingredients, roll dough into different shapes with their hands or a rolling pin, or measure out ingredients and cut biscuits into shapes with a biscuit cutter.  

Explain processes as you go, and discuss words like sifting, whisking and beating. Talk about how you use kitchen scales to measure the flour and how the recipe has the oven temperature and the cooking time required.  

Discuss the different tools you're using, such as cookie cutters, rolling pins and spatulas. Explain their uses and how you stir with a spoon, flatten with a rolling pin and get rid of lumps in a sieve. 

The personal touch 

Add to their experience by involving all their senses. Ask your little ones if they like the smell of the biscuits in the oven, what the cake tastes like or if can they hear the crunch of the slice when they take the first bite.   

Children will love decorating biscuits and cupcakes, or wrapping fudge in colourful paper or containers with stickers. Use adjectives like shiny, sticky, colourful, glittery or sparkly.  

Why not go further and design your own labels? Encourage children to decorate the gift box for fudge, design their own tag, tie the ribbon, write their own message and draw a picture for the cover of the home-made card! Talk about what they’re doing as you go and give them plenty of time to answer in their own words.  

Family fun 

At the end, help build their memories by talking about what you’ve done together. Ask children what they liked most - was it mixing the ingredients, shopping from the list or wrapping their gift? Encourage your children to make their own recipe book, with pictures of what they did and the dishes they made. Add labels as they describe the process so you can share it again with friends and family.  

It’s worth the effort 

It’s a busy time of year, so when you have to move fast this is not the time to involve a toddler! Involve your little ones when you can, and remember that the extra time and effort this takes in preparation (and definitely in cleaning up) is building a strong language foundation for them in later life. Hearing and seeing new words used in a real-life situation, equips children to better understand and express themselves, and the yummy things to eat are a nice bonus. 

Check out this blog for more ideas and books about cooking to share  

First 5 Forever sessions are free at your local library! Join other families and enjoy a fun adventure with your little one.

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