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Loads of Learning—In the Kitchen!

At-Home Learning Opportunities to Share with Families



Look around your kitchen. Did you ever realize it is a sensory playground for the developing brain? Whether it's colors, textures, smells, temperatures, or tastes of different foods, many learning opportunities exist in the kitchen.

Share the kitchen learning tips listed below and Connect4Learning Ants on a Log recipe with families today. And, find even more at-home preschool learning ideas from early childhood experts, Kathy H. Lee and Lesli M. Richards in the Gryphon House book, The Homegrown Preschooler.

Cooking is Learning!

Kitchen Tips for Preschoolers

  • Make things accessible. Consider placing dishes on a low shelf so your preschooler can help set the table.
  • Give small, simple "chores." Let your child help unload the dishwasher. Just make sure to unload anything sharp or fragile first.
  • Teach food safety. Let your child help with washing fruits and vegetables, and let her taste them as you work.
  • Practice measuring. Invite your child to help you measure ingredients.
  • Share baking responsibilities. Let your child help in safe ways with baking and cooking: stirring, adding ingredients, pouring, and so on.
  • Practice safety! Move any potentially dangerous items to an out-of-reach location. Always supervise your child in the kitchen.

Connect4Learning Ants on a Log Recipe

We like this activity because it uses how-to instructions to help children make something fun and useful. Your child will think about following the right sequence or order of steps, problem solve, and learn to get information from how-to text as you make a snack together. You and your child will use the words materials, straight, and steps, as well as sequencing words such as first, second, next, and then.

Materials:
  • Cream cheese
  • Celery (washed)
  • Raisins
  • Child-friendly knife
  • How to Make Ants on a Log poster (download here)
  • How to Make Ants on a Log sequence cards from the C4L Pre-K Kit (download here)
Instructions:
  1. Briefly discuss the role of recipes, showing the How to Make Ants on a Log poster.
  2. Explain that the how-to-text will help them learn the steps to make a snack.
  3. Point out the materials section. Explain that materials are things needed to do a task. Have your child say the word materials.
  4. Point out the steps section. Explain that steps are what we do to complete a task. Ask the children to say the word steps. Read each step aloud, using sequential words and pointing to the photos. Discuss the steps a little as you read. For example, say that the second step is to put three raisins in a straight line.
  5. After reading, give a general retelling of the overall procedure, using the sequential words. Or, ask your child to describe the steps in order, using the photos as a guide.
  6. Invite your child to make the snack for himself. Once finished, remark that he or she must be proud for making the snack.

More Challenge:

If your child is able to follow the steps, challenge him or her to think of steps needed to make something else. What are the steps, and what materials would they use? Another option is to think of foods you could substitute in the recipe, such as peanut butter instead of cream cheese. Your child could make this snack for the whole family on another day!