Sometimes we may look at a toddler-age child and think, “they’re way too young to cook! I can’t let them in the kitchen!” While it’s true that your toddler probably won’t wander into the kitchen and whip you up a 5-course gourmet meal, they absolutely can start helping with meal prep. More than just being able to help, young children genuinely enjoy trying new tasks and assisting with practical life work.
Young children are eager to contribute helping hands to the family workload and habits formed early are most likely to stick. Instead of preparing food for your toddler, it can be both fun and educational to prepare food *with* your child. Last week, Ms. Renee and Ms. Mari worked with all the toddlers to make a pizza!
The guides set up the area for food preparation and made sure that they used materials that the toddlers were comfortable with. Every student took turns rolling out the dough, spreading the sauce, and adding shredded cheese.
“They were all patiently waiting their turns and were excited for the pizza to come out the oven and eat,” – Ms. Renee
In addition to building practical life skills for the future like responsibility, patience, and independence, having your toddler help you in the kitchen builds other skills as well. Rolling out the dough, spreading the sauce, and grabbing and releasing the cheese are all activities that improve fine motor skills and expand sensory experiences. The extra time it takes to complete a task like cooking also develops their concentration and reduce distractions.
Ready to incorporate this lesson at home? Here’s what you’ll need to complete this work.
MAKING PIZZA AT HOME
Clean, smooth surface at waist height (a learning tower can be helpful here)
Big spoon or ladle
Dark baking sheet
Ready made pizza dough
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pre-heat oven to 400°
Roll out the dough on a clean surface
Spread the sauce on the dough, leaving about a half-inch perimeter of crust
Add shredded cheese
(Add other toppings as desired)
Bake approx. 10 minutes for cheese pizza; bake approx. 15 minutes if you added other toppings. Crust should be deep golden-brown
Remove pizza from oven and let cool before slicing
What’s your favorite recipe to make with your toddler? Let us know in the comments!