Herefordshire Hub coordinator Kate on what kids can pick up through sessions and also while we're cooking at home...
One of Herefordshire Children’s Services main areas of focus at the moment is home based learning. This is something the Kids Kitchen sessions really encourage too and there are lots of things we do during our sessions that are easy to replicate at home – either as part of a full cooking session or simply adding a few minutes of play and discussion into another every day task.
We try to talk a lot about where our food comes from during the sessions, something my three year old has recently become obsessed by; “where do potatoes come from Mummy?” or similar is a regular question here! As irritating as these thousand questions a day can be, it is all part of their learning and understanding of the world around them. But as well as the obvious food related learning opportunities, Kids Kitchen sessions offer a lot more in terms of helping our children develop, right from a very young age up to the adults who attend too and pick up new recipes or cooking techniques!
Exploring food can be a great way to encourage engaging all of our senses – taste being the obvious one but we can also talk about how foods feel: is it rough? Smooth? Soft? Squishy? How does the texture change when it has been cooked? The raw potato will feel very different to the cooked potato we have just mashed up. Or what about the smell? I can remember feeling so proud when my little boy said that the fresh basil smelt like pasta and pesto (one of his favourites!) because fresh basil looks nothing like the pesto it can become so this was a true test of his sense of smell. But even simpler than actually recognising specific foods, identifying sweet, salty or bitter smells is something that only comes through trial and error.
Cooking and preparing food can also help teach lots of basic motor skills, with older children the tasks of snipping with scissors, chopping with the knives, grating, mixing or crushing to name just a few are all great learning opportunities that can be used at home as well as in the sessions. Younger children can also benefit from the opportunity to hone their pincher grip skills or helping with stirring, kneading or pouring as part of what we do.
We can also use food as an opportunity to explore other learning outcomes – the range of colours available to us is vast and even if a child has never seen an aubergine before, we can still talk about the deep purple colour, or the dark red of a beetroot, the bright green of fresh parsley or yellow of a lemon. As they get older, pastry cutters can provide a simple way to talk about shapes and counting the number of carrots we will put into a recipe or how many cup full of flour are required are also great ways to encourage learning at home. Older still and weighing and measuring with scales or jugs can be made into a game as well as incorporating it into our recipes.
Anything that gets kids engaged in learning and helps parents with teaching is fantastic. By using every day tasks like this it is easy to make home based learning an enjoyable part of everyday life. As well as showing you how to do all this at our sessions, we have some great resources available too to help you carry on cooking, experimenting and learning yourself at home.
You can find our ‘Essentials Kit’ of utensils like the ones we use in the sessions, the Kids Kitchen apron and our ‘9 for 5’ recipe pack all here
Plus a wealth of recipes, hints and tips at The Kids Kitchen Collective on the Mighty Network here
We hope we have inspired you to get cooking!