On Wednesday mornings, I take advantage of the late start Decorah Schools has and teach WellKid Wednesdays, a kid’s cooking class in the new Co-op Kitchen Classroom. It is continually evolving as I learn what topics the kids like learning about, what breakfast foods they enjoy, and how to manage kids full of energy at 7:45 in the morning.
One of the greatest parts of this class (and other kids cooking classes I’ve taught) is realizing the importance of cooking with kids.
Here are a few things kids learn when you take the time to cook with them:
More often than not in WellKid Wednesdays we are making something as a large group or in partners. It is great to see kids navigating within a group and practicing their leadership skills – even if it is just to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano.
Have you ever baked with a kid before? When we made breakfast cookies, I had to pry some of the kids away from the oven because all they wanted to do was watch them bake. Waiting for something and then finally getting to try it after it bakes or freezes is a great lesson in patience.
An obvious one is cooking skills – something that will stay with them forever. Students in my classes learn basic knife skills, how to mix, measure, and make healthy snacks. These skills allow kids to be much more independent and able to make healthy choices by themselves. They don’t have to be reliant on pre-packaged food when they know how to cut fruit or make a yogurt parfait.
Cooking takes math! Multiplying or dividing a recipe, converting teaspoons to tablespoons, or adding fractions to get one whole cup, the math in cooking is endless. Science is definitely a big part of cooking too. Making observations, experimenting, and playing with ingredients is all vital to cooking and making food.
This is the part of cooking that I value the most and try to impart to my students: Sometimes you don’t have to use a recipe. Recipes are great, but it’s nice to let loose once in a while and make something on your own and guess what? Usually it tastes pretty good!