Develop Cognitive Skills Through Cooking
- 19 June 2018
- Posted by: CDC
- Category: Parent Tips,
Most children like to imitate adults, so why not take this opportunity to bring your child to the kitchen and learn important skills through cooking. Creating dishes together can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you.
Cooking is an interesting and multi-sensory activity. It helps children of all ages develop cognitive skills and abilities. Through cooking, children can learn to follow instructions, solve problems and make predictions and observations. Cooking is a great opportunity for children to understand and apply their knowledge of mathematics, science and language. Children can be encouraged to count or measure the ingredients, observe the changing forms of food or even read a recipe while they are helping to prepare a dish.
So, invite your child to be your little cooking helper! Here are some examples to help your child learn through making simple dishes:
- Making ‘fruit and veggie caterpillars’
This dish is not only healthy, but also looks colourful and attractive to children. Have your child help wash the vegetables and fruit. Your child can learn to recognise the names, colours and shapes of the vegetables and fruit. Apart from looking, your child can use other senses to discover the features of different ingredients, such as using their hands to touch the surface of the cucumber and describing the texture. To prepare the ingredients for each “caterpillar”, tell your child how many slices of vegetables or fruit you need and let your child count them for you. You may also prepare two bowls of the same sliced ingredients and ask your child to put them together to practise addition. Show your child how to make a “caterpillar” by sticking the sliced ingredients together with cream cheese in a particular pattern (e.g. apple-banana-apple-banana). Your child then helps you finish the rest by following the same pattern to practise sequencing. You can even encourage your child to create their own pattern for the “caterpillar”!
- Making a cake
Preparing the ingredients with your child is the first essential step. Talk about the ingredients in the recipe and practise one to one correspondence. Your child can be encouraged to match the word “milk” in a recipe with the word “milk” on a carton. Making a cake involves several procedures i.e. measuring, mixing and baking. Tell your child what will happen first, next, after, and last before you start. You may also invite them to remind you what is next while you are preparing the dish.
Children enjoy measuring ingredients. This is also a good opportunity to introduce early maths concepts, such as ‘more/less‘ and ‘heavy/light’. Try to use different measuring tools, such as cups, spoons and scales, to help understand how to measure the weight or volume of the item. You can ask your child to pour the milk or scoop the flour into the bowl on a scale. If your child is starting to recognise some numbers, ask him to read the numbers on the scale where the arrow is pointing. Then add or take away some of the ingredients until they get the right amount.
It will be fun for your child to predict how the mixture turns out once it’s been cooked. Before baking, you may ask your child questions like “Will the cake be cold or hot after baking?”. Then observe and talk about the changes (e.g. the cake rises, the colour of the cake changes) during the baking process. Let them check their prediction once the cake is baked.
Tips: when your child is involved in cooking, you must expect that it will take longer than usual! Pick a time when cooking and eating will not be rushed. Try to make dishes that are simple, so that your child can manage to take part in most of the preparation tasks. Most importantly, before you and child get started, you should consider potential risks and be aware of safety in the kitchen (e.g keeping the floor dry and clean, washing hands before cooking and keeping your child away from sharp knives). Most of all have fun together!