1 kitchen + 1 grand + 1 grandchild (or more!) = a delicious recipe for learning
Warm weather, longer daylight hours, end of the school year, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day — these are all ingredients for cooking up some great fun with your grandkids. I mean, literally, cooking!
When children cook, they’re developing
• pre-math and math skills: measuring and counting
• pre-reading and reading skills: letters and words have meaning
• gross and small motor skills: pouring, stirring, mixing, forming shapes.
Children also learn new vocabulary words; increase language and communication skills; and follow directions while making the recipe. Throw in a bit of science — combining different items, heating at high temperature, changing the form — and you have the makings of fun school-readiness activities for you and your grandkids.
How about “dirt cake”? Crushed chocolate cookies resemble dirt; gummy worms add just the right “yuck” factor to make children giggle. My daughter makes small portions, using short plastic glasses as serving containers. Here are two versions of this disgusting/delicious dessert from about.com and yummly.com.
Now, what to do with all that food? You can cook just for the fun of it. Or, start now to plan a special Mother’s Day or Father’s Day celebration. Chances are your son or daughter has been helping you celebrate for years. This year, turn the tables and join with your grandchildren for a surprise event. Mother’s Day lunch can feature a simple menu: You prepare the main dish; grandkids make side dishes, dessert, special placemats and table decorations. A Father’s Day picnic or cookout offers cooking choices for all ages; grandkids make festive party decorations. For a simple fajita recipe, you cook the seasoned chicken and, according to their ages, children prepare and set up a colorful display of the topping selections.
Throw a party…even if it’s just you and your grandkids attending!
You can select cooking menus that go along with all sorts of themes:
• Color: Decorations and main ingredients are all the same color.
• Letters of the alphabet: Each course starts with a different letter.
• Backwards: Start with dessert and end with the main course or appetizer; have everyone wear their clothes backwards or inside out.
• Bugs: Ugg! Make the food look like different insects.
Additional school readiness skills are learned from planning these meals, celebrations and parties. Making “to do” and grocery lists, assigning tasks, figuring out how to do things and in what order are problem solving and organizational skills important to success in school and later life.
Remy Agee is the former Anne Arundel County (MD) Child Care Coordinator and retired as Director of Communications at a large family and children government agency. She has conducted county, state and national workshops on school readiness and early childhood partnerships. She now focuses on developing and writing articles for parents, grandparents and early childhood professionals.