Some of my favorite times with preschoolers involve cooking, both at my home and at church. I enjoy the conversations during the experience even more than the goodies prepared! It’s so fun to watch as they measure ingredients, stir, and concentrate on pouring! A little messy at times, but fun! The expressions of success on their faces are priceless. You can tell just how good they feel about themselves. And to me, that’s so rewarding.
Teachers sometimes get a little nervous about cooking with preschoolers. But, if you’re there to supervise hand washing, and make sure no one’s too close to a heated appliance, that’s about all you need to worry about. Well, on second thought, I guess there are a few things you need to be aware of. Allergies are always a biggie! Make sure that you post a note by your door and let parents know what you’re cooking or tasting during the session. These days, most churches have adopted a "no nuts" policy to protect kids. (Referring, of course to the kind of nuts you eat — not teachers!) Other things you’ll need to be careful with are: popcorn, grapes and, hot dogs (unless cut in quarters), and hard candy. All of these are potential choke hazards with preschoolers.
Our Sunday School class loved to make "Rainbow Toast." Here’s what you do: Gather several flavors of gelatin and place in separate shakers. These will provide lots of colors for your toast. Guide a child to butter a slice of bread (we used either plastic knives or a craft stick as a spreader). Let the child choose the colors of gelatin he prefers and shake it onto a buttered slice of bread. (At this point, the gelatin colors will look pastel on the bread.) The teacher then places the bread into a toaster oven. Watch closely, it won’t take long to cook! When the teacher pulls the bread from the oven, the colors will be vibrant! This is a great cooking activity when you’re teaching about Noah and Ark and God’s promise in the rainbow.
And, remember, you don’t always have cook with heat! Our Sunday School kids used to love making milk shakes. One of their favorites! They loved scooping the ice cream into the blender, pouring milk and then pushing the buttons. Other non-cook ideas are fruit salad, trail mix (without nuts), pudding, and making ice cream!
If you’ve not braved the cooking experience with your kids yet, let me encourage you to do it! Sure, it requires some extra attention on your part. (You might consider asking a parent or another adult to come help during your cooking activities.) And sure, it’s messy, but aren’t a lot of fun activities? Sometimes we adults can get in the way of a learning experience. Just enjoy it with them!
If you have some great recipes that your kids love, send them my way! I’d love to be your taste tester!