Five ways toddlers can learn, play & help in the kitchen!

There are so many ways toddlers can learn, play (and also help) in the kitchen! B (2 1/2) has always loved joining in with cooking and kitchen activities - both imaginary and real. [Hence his 2nd Birthday Tea Party in the Park!] 

It is so great to see how confident and proud he looks knowing that he is helping mama. ...And he actually really is a great help! Here are five super easy and fun ways toddlers can enjoy getting involved in kitchen activities.
Washing up is a definite favourite at our place - which even has a whole post devoted to it: Mummy's little kitchen hand

Sure, in order to involve kids in the kitchen, there may be a bit of extra 'set up', practise, explaining, discussion, and supervision going on, meaning that things take a little longer to get through, but we do actually get through things (even if only in part!!) - with a few wonderful added bonuses thrown in along the way, including:
  • boosted self confidence from knowing he has been trusted enough to take responsibility of various kitchen chores  - and the lovely thing is, that his repertoire is growing daily;
  • increased awareness of safety in the kitchen, such as: learning about hot stove tops, ovens and taps; and sharp knives, graters, peelers and blenders;
  • improved hand skills: crossing midline, bilateral coordination - getting the two hands working well together during tasks, grasping skills - including using various kitchen utensils/tools, pouring/scooping/sifting/stirring/shaking/opening and closing containers...;
  • practising turn taking (waiting/patience/ anticipation/ sharing...)  - and learning that some tasks are really just for mama (or the adult around), while other tasks they can help with...

And the list goes on...
  • practising numbers (counting ingredients/measuring) and colours;
  • identifying and naming objects/food items and cooking 'actions'; 
  • learning cooking processes and gaining a respect for food and an appreciation of how food ends up on the plate;
  • tasting different foods during the preparation process;
  • sensory exploration - water, bubbles, sponges, different food scrap and food textures/ aromas..
  • relaxation (at least, I've found with B, that he tends to calm down and focus, totally becoming immersed in kitchen activities);
  • mama - kiddo bonding time - priceless :-) :- )

Just to be clear though, I'm not there, pulling him away from an activity he's obviously happily engaged in, telling him he must do this or help with that...

Usually, it is when he is following me around, wanting to join in with everything I am doing. He may start by watching, then we chat about what needs to be done - and he spontaneously asks to help!
Often his way of asking to help is by pushing a dining chair up against the part of the kitchen bench where he'd like to be and confidently taking whatever implement I'm holding out of my hand and following suit.  Other times, I may ask if he'd like a turn at helping in different ways.

Baking can be time consuming but such a fun and amazing way to play and learn! Apart from the preparation, B simply loves watching things bake in the oven - growing, expanding, melting, changing colour...

Sabrina at Sow Sprout Play shares her wonderful experiences of baking for the first time with her 2 year twins in this post: Toddler Friendly Recipe - Banana Pumpkin Cookies - which seriously look so yummy!

This list is by no means exhaustive - I just happened to have the camera at hand to capture these few moments!  No doubt, there will be more 'kids in the kitchen' ideas posted in the future!

Top tips for getting kids involved in kitchen activities:
1. Set up a safe work station/spot for your little one - and stay close to supervise! 

2. Talk with each other lots as you go!

3. Practise safety in the kitchen (including washing hands pre handling foods, covering foods which don't need to be out within coughing and sneezing reach(!), keeping an eye on knives, stove/oven etc...  - and point out the dangers. We are constantly talking about how the hot plate and oven dials are only for mama to use - that the hot plates and oven can get very very hot and could hurt him (we did have a minor 'curious hand on the hot pancake pan' incident - he didn't really hurt himself, but it was a great (unplanned) learning opportunity, which included first aid!!! ) And I always show B how I am keeping my fingers away from the knife blade. (He is so obsessed with cooking, and such a capable, determined climber, I figure that it can never be too early to start this kind of discussion!)

4. With new tasks, I generally like to demonstrate, then practise 'hand over hand', then give him a go at being independent (talking him through if required). 

5. Choose a simple task to start with - something achievable, which will give a sense of accomplishment and pride:-) 
... and HAVE FUN!!! :-) 

How do your kids love to join in with kitchen activities?

Feel free to check out these recipes which B and I have had fun making together...
Blueberry Scones
Ginger Cookies 
Vegetarian Steaks
Banana Blueberry Pancakes 

Thanks for visiting Kids' Play Space!
'til soon,

happy kitchen fun!

Anna :-) 

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  1. Great fun. I'm hoping to get our Little Man involved in some campfire cooking over the winter. He already helps out mixing cake mix for me (and eating most of it!)
    Thanks for linking up to the Outdoor Play Party

    1. Hi Leila! Thanks for stopping by to comment! Campfire cooking sounds like so much fun!! [ps - I apologise for linking an INdoor kitchen based post on the OUTdoor play party!!! oops!] Anna:-)

  2. A toddler is going to follow you around anyway, so might as well put him to work! :) At this age they love to help and learn, so it's the perfect age to start letting them "help" in the kitchen.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Emma!! I agree with you 100%!! Toddlers love following along and joining in:-) (cute age, right?)

  3. I love your suggestions. My girls have so much fun helping in the kitchen. I'm excited to use some of your ideas to help them participate even more. Thank you for linking up to Discover & Explore. I'm featuring this post today.

    1. Thank you so much for featuring Kids Play Space Shaunna! I always love the Discover and Explore collections!! ... Love that your girls love cooking too - here's to celebrating mini chefs having fun in the kitchen!!

  4. Thank You So Much... My Grandson loves to cook.

    1. Hi Candy CanDo! Thanks for stopping by, I'm so glad you liked this post! And I love that your grandson is a mini chef too!! Cooking with little ones is so much fun, isn't it! Anna:-)


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