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A Caucasian family with two parents and two teenage children doing breakfast at the family kitchen counter, dad is working in his laptop computer, the children is having morning breakfast.

With the coronavirus outbreak keeping people in their homes, parents are looking for opportunities to entertain and stimulate their children. One great way to do this is to get them in the kitchen!

Engaging kids in the kitchen has many benefits. Children who help prepare a meal are more likely to try new foods or familiar foods cooked in new ways.

And there are other benefits. Working together in the kitchen is an opportunity to learn to read a clock or timer, read a recipe, learn math skills, practice fine motor skills, learn lessons on cleanliness, encourage creativity, and more. It is also a great time to create special memories that children never forget. How many of us remember helping our grandmothers make cookies or our moms make that special recipe?

Children as young as one can get involved in the kitchen. Make sure the tasks you assign to each child are age appropriate. No matter the age, all kids should be supervised. Also, embrace the mess! You can expect a few more messes when kids are in the kitchen. They are learning as they go, and the more practice they get, the more they learn.

Age Appropriate Kitchen Tasks

Young toddlers can help dump or pour premeasured ingredients into a bowl, pot, or pan. This is a good time to teach them to stir, even if they need assistance. Something as minor as letting them press the button on a blender or food processor can help children feel included. As they get older, they can help measure or count amounts for an ingredient. For example, 3 eggs or 2 cups of corn.

Opportunities for older children are limitless. Consider including them in small tasks such as cleaning produce, measuring ingredients, stirring batter, or flipping a quesadilla. When everyone is comfortable, kids can even help with chopping, but be sure that they are supervised. Start with soft foods and kid-friendly knives.

You can even develop lessons about different vegetables and fruits. Talk about color or how they grow. Did you know that sweet potatoes grow underground?

Get creative, relax, embrace the mess, and get kids cooking in the kitchen!

Kid-Friendly Recipes on Alabama Extension Website

Quick Pita Pizzas: Perfect for kids of all ages. They can help “paint” the sauce on the pita. They can also sprinkle on the cheese and toppings.

Tasty Tacos: Kids can drain and rinse the black beans and corn and then dump them along with the chicken and salsa into a bowl. Older kids can help shred lettuce.

Power Mac and Cheese: Kids can measure flour, noodles, milk, cheese, or broccoli. Young children can dump in the cheese or broccoli.

For more healthy recipes to get your kids in the kitchen, visit www.LiveWellAlabama.com.

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