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Learning Through Summer Play: Cooking

Posted by Little 06/23/14 0 Comment(s) Toddler-Approved Recipes,


Summer is officially here! Now is the beginning of some serious quality time with the little ones!

As we begin to fill our weeks with activities, it is always a great idea to think about how these activities will contribute to the development of our children.Luckily, all sorts of everyday activities can help our kids develop skills we may not even know we were teaching!

There are so many learning opportunities for your child that it is often difficult to know where to start.I thought I would start off this series with one of my favorite things to explore with kids, cooking! Whether you are baking a cake, making a sandwich, or choosing a snack, just being in the kitchen opens up several opportunities for learning through play.



Participating in the daily “grown-up” routine of cooking provides your child with a life skill. It is a wonderful opportunity to discuss nutrition. In fact, a child as young as three can learn that fresh foods such as apples and carrots are healthier than chips and cookies. It is amazing how quickly they learn! This summer, make this lesson into a game by helping your child find all the healthy treats in the kitchen.Celebrate all they have learned by making a healthy snack together.I have several examples below. JYour child is much more likely to eat a healthy snack if he is part of the cooking process!


Fine Motor Skills

Cooking helps a child with fine motor skills like stirring, chopping, measuring, and adding ingredients.Baking is an especially good way to develop these skills.


Math and Science

Math skills are also developed.The child can count the ingredients, learn about sequencing, and cause and effect.Seeing a child’s wonder as a cake batter is transformed into cake is such a treat.You can’t help but find their enthusiasm contagious!




One of my favorite skills that cooking develops is a sense of independence.Children want to be able to do things themselves and cooking makes that possible.Food isn’t just set in front of them; they are part of the process. 

A fun way to encourage this independence is by creating a “cereal station.” Fill a small bottle with milk and a small container with cereal and put it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.Your child will be able to make their own breakfast.The sense of accomplishment that your child feels by doing this is priceless!

Below are links to some exciting recipes for you and your child.Please leave comments below letting us know some of your favorite recipes to cook with your child.Also, we love to see your pictures.Please send any pictures you would like to share to our Facebook or Instagram.We would love to see some of you cooking with your kids!





Crispy Apple-wiches

1 large apple

1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp peanut butter (may substitute almond, cashew or any seed butter)

2 Tbsp granola

Use an apple corer or melon baller to remove the apple's core.  Cut a half inch off of the top and bottom of the apple.  Cut apple crosswise into four 1/2 inch thick slices.  They should be circles with a hole in the center.  Let your child rub the cut sides of the apple with a lemon to keep it from browning.  Have your child spread on the peanut butter and sprinkle granola on top.  Finally, place the remaining apple slice on top for the perfect Apple-wich!  

*Note-  Feel free to come up with additional toppings.  Some other good options are raisins, honey, or bananas.



Fruit Treats

31/2 cups white grape juice

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1 cup grapes, halved

1 cup apricots, quartered

1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved

Pour juice into saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the top.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat on low and stir the juice and gelatin mixture until the gelatin dissolves.  Pour into individual bowls or muffin tins and add fruit.  Chill overnight for a delicious and beautiful treat!




Yogurt Pops

Yogurt cup

Craft sticks

This is the easiest recipe ever, but your kids will still love it.  Buy yogurt with a foil top where the top of the container is larger than the bottom.  Take craft stick and push it through the center of the foil.  Place yogurt in the freezer overnight.  The next day, run the side of the yogurt container under warm water and pull the pop out of the container.  Your child will love this healthier Popsicle.

*Note- this recipe is great for pudding pops as well!





Fourth of July Snacks

Although these last two aren't really recipes, your child will love helping you arrange these treats in the shape of the American Flag or use cookie cutters to make watermelon stars for your Fourth of July celebration!