Including a toddler in cooking is much easier said than done. Toddlers love to be helpful and it’s incredibly beneficial for them too. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to find the extra time and energy required to let our toddlers help! Toddlers naturally slow tasks down and produce extra cleanup. But on the flip side, helping out with cooking and other real chores captures the child’s natural desire to be a contributing member of the family, building their sense of community, their desire to be helpful, and their self-confidence. For a toddler, chores are also a challenge – helping them to develop their fine or large motor skills, their focus, and their ability to understand a relatively complex task.
Here are a few not-so-unhelpful ways my little one helps in the kitchen:
- Washing beans or vegetables by repeatedly dumping water over them while they are in the colander in the sink
- Making microwave scrambled eggs (I’ll post again with our egg strategy😜)
- Making rice
Making rice is basically a spooning activity. I set my LO up on a cloth on the floor with the rice container, a pan (he loves a real pan), and a scooper, then I mostly just let him scoop as he will. Sometimes I say, ‘Oh look, there is a grain of rice on the floor. Let’s try to get the rice into the pan’ or ‘You scooped rice into the pan!’ I stay positive until he starts experimenting, and then we immediately move onto the next step.
Sometimes I add a couple more scoops of rice myself, then I slyly pour the rice into a liquid measuring cup and then back into the pan, so I know how much water we need. I measure the water and then we pour it in together. Then, he pops the lid on the pan and I put the pan on the stove. And last, but not least, we sweep! Rice that spilled on the mat, I pour right back in the container for next time.
This activity works for my kid because he loves pans, and scooping is a great challenge for him at his current stage of development. He also loves dumping, so it does require supervision! Anyway, hopefully this gives you some ideas for how to help your kid help in the kitchen! Stay tuned for my related post on egg making where I might even remember to include some of the Montessori philosophy on letting kids do real work!