I love cooking with kids. Yes, there is more preparation involved and more mess to clean up afterwards, but it is all worth it, in my opinion. Food is important to children and they are often drawn to opportunities to help cook. Whether at home or at school, I love to spend time cooking and teaching.
Today, my three-year-old son and I made homemade applesauce. We went apple picking last week and we have lots of apples to process. We had so much fun peeling and coring the apples with my handy apple peeling gadget. We howled with laughter as the apple peel whizzed around and around, creating a spray of apple juice in our faces. It was great! While I cut the apples, my son put the diced pieces into the crock pot, eating a few along the way! Then we measured out the cinnamon, sugar, and water to finish the recipe. He loves to wash dishes too (at least he thinks that is what he is doing), so we moved over to the sink and he worked on the dishes for a little while.
Here are some of the things I thought about as we made applesauce today:
1. We had FUN! My son had an opportunity to see how doing a job can also be fun.
2. He took great pride in his wor k and felt a sense of accomplishment at the end.
3. Language: We spent time talking throughout the whole process of cooking together. There were new vocabulary words presented as we worked, like crock pot, dice, cinnamon, and recipe. We also talked about unrelated things and just enjoyed being together. We listened to music and danced a little bit too!
4. Math: We measured the ingredients.
5. Science: We picked the apples last week and then turned them into something very different through the process of making applesauce. My son saw the apples in their original form and then as applesauce.
6. We talked about being patient. After we finished our part of the preparation, we had to wait for the applesauce to cook before we could sample our treat. Children need to experience delayed gratification and learn how to wait for things.
7. My son learned something about responsibility through this activity. He helped clean up after cooking.
I know it is often easier as adults to just get things done quickly, but I was reminded again today of the great value in letting children participate in the tasks that we see as routine.
In case you want to make some applesauce this fall, here is our favorite recipe:
Peel and cut 10 medium sized apples and place them in a crock pot. Add 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!