Holiday Cooking Fun and Learning


Cooking with your kids teaches valuable skills such as the importance of nutrition and what vitamins and minerals they can find in the foods you prepare. Leaning to cook gives kids control of their nutrition and calorie intake while imparting skills that benefit their ability to work in a lab and perform complex experiments. Baking is a science and not following a baking recipe can often lead to disaster! Working with recipes is also a great way to teach and support the value of math skill such as multiplication, division and fractions.

The first step is to get your kids to look up recipes on the Internet or in a cook book. Watch YouTube videos which demonstrate different cooking techniques.  Once you have agreed upon a recipe, get them to make a list of all the ingredients. The next step is to set out all the implements and ingredients. This helps to reinforce the importance of preparation before starting an experiment in the lab.

Check that everything is in good working order. Discuss stove, machinery and electricity safety. This is an excellent way to learn how to safely handle potentially dangerous equipment in the lab.

Ask your child to read the recipe from start to finish. Reading and following recipes teaches them how to follow instructions; a skill that will help with exams, lab work and experiments at school. Get your child to read the instructions out loud so that they can practice reading at the same time.  When encountering unfamiliar cooking terms such as folding, whisking or beating, ask your child to use the index where they can find definitions. This will help to reinforce the idea that unfamiliar words should be looked up.

Teach your child to measure accurately. Accurate measuring techniques will ensure success with both baking and experiments. Older children can investigate the chemical reactions that take place as the ingredients combine.

The most important thing is that everyone has fun. This is not only an excellent learning opportunity, but it is also a great activity to share with your children. This is the one time your kids can have fun playing with their food.  Here is an easy recipe for sugar cookies that are perfect for the holidays and for the beginner chef. For Math skill development have your child increase or decrease the recipe. Doubling it is pretty easy but cutting it in half is going to be a challenge since your child is going to have to figure out how to get half an egg.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

·        1 cup butter, softened
·        1 cup granulated sugar
·        1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·        1/2 teaspoon salt
·        1 egg
·        1 teaspoon vanilla
·        2 1/2 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Stir in the flour.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half of dough into a 6-inch-long roll. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Roll out and cut with a cookie cutter. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. Decorate with icing sugar and candy.

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Filed under Learning Resources, Nutrition Education

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