It’s never too soon to involve your child in the basics of food preparation.
There are so many safe, messy and yummy activities you can share with to get kids cooking.
But when do you start to introduce your child to the science of cooking – with what happens when ingredients are combined, heated and cooled?
My granddaughter Daisy is five years old now, and I felt like this was the perfect time to get her more involved in food preparation. Specifically, joining me while cooking on the hob.
Although this was the first time that I had focused on the broad science of cooking, food and food preparation is hardly a new subject on this website. In fact, my second ever Granny Smith blog was about eating!
Back then, I was keen to capture the moment when Daisy first used her new skill of baby signing to let us know she was hungry by using the sign for ‘eat’.
These days she’s able to be much more precise about her requirements and she’s very happy to help prepare food with us, especially if the goal is to produce a sweet treat!
A recipe for fun
Eating, food and the process of preparing food have appeared in several posts since the early days of this blog.
To begin with, I focused on familiarising Daisy with very basic food preparation. I wrote about the time when Daisy helped to make some cheesy whirls – a quick, easy activity that helped her to practise her hand-eye coordination and develop her dexterity.
Two years later, I reflected on our continued enjoyment of cooking activities, which help Daisy to build her skills, knowledge and understanding.
Food has even featured in a blog about the value of pretend play for teaching a healthy approach to nutrition.
Finally, October’s potato harvest helped to teach her about the natural world.
This blog is also about eating and involves another cooking activity with Daisy, but with a different focus.
Rocky Road to a tasty treat
Once again, Daisy was standing on her small red chair, right next to me at the kitchen worktop. She was ready to make up a basic Rocky Road recipe.
Using the easy Rocky Road recipe from the BBC Good Food site I had already prepared the baking tin, gathering together the equipment and the ingredients.
Having everything ready meant that when Daisy stepped up on her chair and we tied up her apron, I could always be by her side as we made the dish.
This was important because it was the first time that Daisy had cooked at the hob with me. Daisy’s a good listener now and can follow simple verbal instructions.
She is also a very curious child and making Rocky Road together was a perfect way for her to discover some of the science of cooking. Specifically, what happens to some solids when we heat them and what happens when they cool down again.
But before we reached that stage, the biscuits needed breaking up and I quickly discovered that Daisy was very good at bashing the bag of biscuits with the large wooden spoon!
Together we put the chocolate and butter into the saucepan. As I added the golden syrup, Daisy looked in the saucepan to identify the three ingredients.
I had explained to Daisy that we were going to use the heat on the hob and had shown her the red light when the hob was hot.
It was time to see what happened when the saucepan and its contents were heated. And it was time for Daisy to use her large wooden spoon again.
Stirring, Daisy spotted that the butter was melting. The mixture was changing.
And then, looking at the liquid concoction, Daisy loudly declared, “Daddy, I’ve made chocolate soup!”
Together we stirred in the crushed biscuits, marshmallows and raisins. I then poured the mixture into the prepared baking tin while Daisy engaged in ‘chef’s perks,’ and licked her wooden stirring spoon.
As Daisy licked the wooden spoon we chatted about what had happened to the chocolate, butter and syrup – they were a different mixture now, soft and squidgy and chocolatey.
We put the baking tin of Rocky Road into the fridge.
Ready to share
The following morning, Daisy had another look at her Rocky Road mixture.
It had changed again! It was harder, but still chocolatey and ready to take on a trip to the adventure playground and to share with our friends!
This was the first time that I had focused on the broad science of cooking in an activity, allowing Daisy an opportunity to watch what happened when ingredients were mixed together and heated.
Daisy was delighted with the result and enjoyed describing the mixtures that we made, describing her understanding of the effects of heat and cooling. The results of our activity met with approval from Daisy and our friends!
Granny Smith says…
Opportunities for cooking together give young children a wealth of experiences that cover many aspects of their development.
When making Rocky Road with Daisy our focus was on:
- Language – listening to and following instructions and allowing the child to talk about what they are seeing as they cook.
- Physical – hand-eye coordination, physical coordination and strength, mastering how to use different implements.
- Emotional – a sense of achievement through tasting and sharing their cooking.
- Early science – what happens when ingredients are mixed and heated and cooled.