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Teaching Children to Read Recipes

Child Cooking

Recipes are full of numbers including measurements, times and quantities. Having children read and measure ingredients teaches them about volume and size. Being able to properly estimate the true size of a cup or half cup helps them learn portion control in serving and eating. Learning the value of time and being able to manage their time for things like homework and chores. Math skills can be exercised by doubling or halving recipes.

Recipes are a lesson in science. Actions and reactions create the dishes we eat. Bread rises because of yeast, salt brings out sweetness, butter melts, eggs run or bounce depending on if they are raw or boiled. Even basic concepts like adding heat to water to cause it to boil is a science lesson waiting to be learned. Allowing children to play at cooking, reinforces skills they will use in the school science lab.

Recipes teach us about our history. From recipes off the back of boxes to ones passed down through the family, there are recipes we use to celebrate holidays or special occasions. Consider Thanksgiving and how interwoven recipes and food are with that day. Learning where recipes came from and passing them down gives us a personal history and becomes part of our identity. A grandmother’s cookie recipes or mom’s soup recipe to help us get well are a part of our personal history that can be learned and passed on.

Memories are waiting to be made in the kitchen. Spending time helping a child select a recipe for a meal and then to help prepare it teaches them responsibility and how to plan and prepare. Not only is there the opportunity to discover the science, history and math of a recipe, but there are so many more topics that can be introduced. Discussing how food affects health, where food comes from, how plants grow, jobs related to the food industry, and food/kitchen safety. There’s also that extra bonus of spending time with a child and the chance that they may open up, talk about their day and let you know what’s going on in their life. Most importantly the memory of cooking with you in the kitchen gives a child a memory of time spent together.