Easy cooking activities for toddlers

10 easy cooking activities your kids will love!  

At Play Learn Grow our teachers are experts at getting creative, having fun and providing messy play environments for our tamariki.    It is much easier in our West Auckland ECE environment where we have the resources, the space and plenty of patience!  But there are also fun ways at home you can introduce cooking and food to your children that don’t involve so much mess! Below are 10 fun activities that also help to develop your toddlers fine motor skills, literacy and numeracy too.

  1. Measuring

Pull out the measuring spoons and teach your children how to use them.  You can do this with any ingredients in the house and your kids will love it – compare sizes and weights (small/large/heavy/light etc)

2. Pouring

Learning to pour accurately is a great tip to learn and works our fine motor skills.  You can do this with water or any other liquid you have in the house.  Play a game and try not to spill any water when you pour between bowls and vessels.  You could even try making ice blocks which they can enjoy once they freeze.

3. Stirring

Stirring ingredients is a basic cooking skill children can learn while they are young. If you get them involved while they are young, this is always a good task for them.  It also gives their arms a good workout!  Any recipe will do that involves mixing with a large spoon.

4. Preparation

Find an easy recipe and read it aloud to your child.  Then you can walk through the preparation steps with them before baking gets under way.  Understanding the importance of preparation before starting an activity is an essential life skill to learn.

5. Planning

Talk and include your children when it comes to meal planning.  Ask them about the meals they eat– breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks etc, and then have them help you write the shopping list or check the fridge/pantry to see what ingredients you already have.

6. Food washing and preparation

Get your children to help washing or peeling vegetables or other ingredients.  The more hands-on experience they have with certain foods the more likely they will be willing to try it.

7. Recipe creativity

Talk with your children about the food tastes that they like, and let them come up with some creations themselves. My children love to add cheese to any savoury meal, and love coming up with different smoothie ideas and crazy names like the ‘green monster’. 

8. Try something new

When you go to the supermarket, ask them to chose a new fruit or vegetable that they can add to a recipe.   Let them select one new thing to buy – on the condition they have to try it!

9. Fastfood at home

There’s no avoiding the love most children have for fast food, but you can adapt this by making a ‘happy meal’ at home.  I do this with the children’s lunch box – cooking chicken nuggets or mini burgers using other things I have in the house.  It’s much healthier and the children are just as excited by their lunch box dinner as they are by a trip to McDonalds!

10. Colours of the rainbow

Have fun by finding all the colours of the rainbow in your kitchen – they can be in food, utensils, appliances, plates and bowls..anything that you can find.  Be careful of the sharp objects with little ones though.