Whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, most kids love experimenting with, learning about and, of course, eating food. However, many of us shy away from letting the little ones loose in the kitchen – it can be hot, messy and potentially unsafe. When you’re spending time with your grandkids, it’s tempting to just go to the park or play in the backyard instead.
But baking, cooking, playing with food and, yes, making a mess, is one of the best grandparent activities around. Not only is it a great bonding experience, but it’ll give your grandkids skills – and a love of cooking – that will likely last until they’re grandparents themselves.
Need inspiration? Roll up your sleeves, grab a roll of Bounty Paper Towels (you’ll probably need it!) and try some of these kid-friendly cooking activities.
Babies (1 to 2 Years Old)
- Make play dough: Mix 1 cup of flour with ¼ cup of salt. Then mix ½ cup of water with a few drops of food coloring. Slowly pour the water into the flour and salt mixture, stirring until combined. Then knead the dough with your hands until the flour is absorbed. Encourage your grandkids to roll it or squish it between their fingers
- Fill a low kitchen cupboard with plastic pots, cups and trays. Babies will enjoy taking everything out, putting things back, stacking them up and knocking them down
- Make spaghetti and add food coloring to the water while cooking it. Babies will love playing with the colourful strands in a highchair or on a mat on the floor
Tip: Babies and messes go together like peas and carrots – but if you have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on hand, cleaning up is as simple as 1-2-3. Use it to remove stuck-on messes and splatters from countertops, tables … and floors, if need be.
Toddlers (2 to 4 Years Old)
- Whether you’re baking muffins or making smoothies, let them press the buttons on appliances like the electric mixer and blender – the noisier the better!
- Bake a cake together and let them add premeasured ingredients to the bowl before stirring the batter (with a little help from you)
- Put plastic toy animals into small plastic containers, fill the containers with water and freeze. Wearing dishwashing gloves, kids can “rescue” the animals by floating the ice blocks in warm water until they melt
- Bake simple shortbread cookies together. Once cooled, your grandkids can decorate them with sprinkles, dried fruit and icing
- A big bowl of dried pasta shapes can provide endless entertainment – younger kids can transfer the pieces between containers or sort them by shape, while older kids can play “restaurant” with them
- Make edible necklaces by threading O-shaped cereal onto string
- Make them feel important by helping you prepare dinner. They can scrub veggies with a brush, pound things with a pestle and mortar, and help set the table
- Make salt dough ornaments. Combine 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of lukewarm water, and then roll out the mixture and cut it into shapes with cookie cutters, making a hole at the top for hanging. Bake in the oven at 250 F for three hours or until hard. Let cool, and then paint and thread with ribbon
- Turn your kitchen into an ice cream parlour. Let your grandkids create sundaes with different ice cream flavours and plenty of toppings, such as fruit, chocolate chips, sauce and whipped cream
Tip: After baking or cooking together, break out the Swiffer WetJet. With a unique dual-nozzle sprayer, this all-in-one mopping system breaks up and dissolves tough messes. The cleaning solution loosens dirt, pulling it deep into the WetJet pad and locking it away for good.
Slightly Older (5 and up)
- Teach them how to crack eggs – it’s such a useful life skill!
- When baking, encourage them to measure out dry ingredients and liquids (it’ll also help with their math skills)
- Have tacos for dinner. Help them prepare small bowls of guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and beans, and then sit down and fill up taco shells with different combinations
- Make homemade pizzas, decorating the bases with everything from cheese and pepperoni to chopped peppers and pineapple – the crazier the better!
- Teach them how to chop up different types of fruit and vegetables correctly. Use a dinner table knife rather than a sharp one to avoid accidents. You could use the results to make soup
- Make sandwiches together for a picnic, using items you already have in your cupboards or fridge. What about peanut butter and banana slices? Or maybe turkey, cheddar and apple?
- Bread making is surprisingly easy for kids to learn if you use dried yeast and an all-in-one method. Alternatively, you can teach them how to use a bread making machine
- Prepare salad together – they will enjoy arranging the food on a plate, and inventing their own salad dressings with oil, vinegar and honey
- Teach them how to wash dishes with a scrubbing brush and a stack of plastic plates and cups. A tiny drop of Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid is all you need for a sink full of dishes and plenty of long-lasting bubbles
Do you have any other great ideas for getting little ones involved in the kitchen? Share your comments below.