Young children love to help but it’s not always easy to find appropriate jobs for them to do when it comes to meal preparation.
Hot stoves and sharp knives understandably leave us wanting them as far from the kitchen as possible during the creation of meals.
Well here are 4 special ways to give your preschooler a job to do in the kitchen so they feel a more active part of the holiday cooking and end up learning some great skills in the process.
1. Bread: If you are making bread let your preschooler help you with the kneading and shaping of the final loaves or shapes. You don’t have to give your child the entire ball of dough just give your little one a bit of the dough your are working with and let them knead side by side with you. This one simple activity keeps my 2 year old busy for about 30 minutes. She sprinkles more flour, kneads, shapes. I have a little apron and a rolling pin for her. True the end result may not be that edible. Usually I just let it rise right along with the rest of the bread and if her father doesn’t snap it up out of fatherly pride she usually wants her own creation. You can use the bread preparation time to talk to your little one about what you are doing. They are very fascinated with cooking.
2. Butter: Did you know you can make butter from whipping cream? Have your preschooler make a great contribution to the special holiday meals by making the butter. Pour heavy whipping cream in an unbreakable container with a good sealing top. Have them shake, shake, shake away until the swishing cream sound turns into “plop, plop!” as they make butter. They will be so surprised. It’s delicious too. Drain the butter in some cheese cloth over a bowl to remove excess liquid, add a little salt to taste. This is a great one because they’ve made something all by themselves. They’ll be asking to make butter all the time.
3. Decorations: Let your preschooler help in setting the table. This works with plastic or disposable tableware and some savy young ones can do well with the glassware. But you be the judge of how well your child can handle the plates and other items. They will need lots of help with this one but you can name who will sit where and what you are placing on the table. Also counting the items is very good. If you start with having your young child help with the regular family meals, by holiday time they will be an old pro.
4. Clean up: Again preschoolers love to help. Can they hand you items from the table? Count the number of plates or cups they hand you or you hand them. Maybe they can put plastic items in the dishwasher? Name them in another language you may be learning. Can they help with wiping down the table? Give them their own special damp rag and wipe up next to them. Or do as in the days of old and get one of those mini brooms with the mini dust pan to sweep crumbs from the table.
With these ideas not only will your young preschooler have a great feeling of accomplishment as they help you with dinner, they will learn some things too.