Little A spends quite a bit of time with me in the kitchen. Usually he plays on the floor while I prepare our meals, but if he is having trouble entertaining himself, I often pull up a high chair to the counter where I am working, and let him get involved (the antilop chair is better for this than the Tripp Trapp since it’s not as wide at the base and therefore gets Alec closer to the counter). We talk about what we are making and I narrate as I chop and stir. When I can, I let Alec smell and taste small pieces of food as I am cooking. I also try to do things down low in front of him so he can see what I am stirring etc.
The other day while baking oat cakes, I actually just brought all the dry ingredients down with me onto the floor so that Alec could really be involved. First I counted as I measured out the oats and put them in the bowl. He “helped” and we ended up with some oats on the floor, but so what? Then we measured out cinnamon and cardamom and added them to the bowl, stirred and stopped to smell the spices.
Then I put Alec in his high chair at the table and got him set up with his own bowl and spoon to stir with. I used the Unbelievabowl so he could get into stirring without the whole thing flying off the table. I didn’t bother with a smock or anything as we weren’t going to be using anything that wouldn’t wash off easily. While I continued with my baking at the table, I measured up some oats for Alec to work with in his bowl. He stirred and “chopped” and scooped and was completely fascinated. He pressed and felt the oats between his fingers and of course tasted some as well.
After awhile I added first just a few drops of water and let him stir to see what happened to the oats and how they changed consistency. Then I added more water so that Alec had a real “batter” to work with. He did a lot more stirring and scooping and mushing around with his fingers. And tasting.
Alec actually kept himself so busy with this activity that I had time to finish baking and get a head start on that evening’s dinner before he ever got tired of it.
There is so much sensory exploration you can do in the kitchen using just the simplest ingredients and utensils. It is a great way to start thinking and talking about our senses with our little ones!
You can find the oat cakes recipe here.