This Thanksgiving we want the kids to help with the meal. They are gung ho about it, which is always a blessing. It’s going to be a large gathering with family and friends. Playing, arguing, watching the game, singing, walking; it’s all going to be part of the day. Hopefully we’ll make some good memories for the kids. Last year, we got a little lazy, and everyone just chatted while the kids ended up teaching online games to their grandfather, who is generally bad with all things digital.
Participation in Family Gatherings
Kids build a sense of participation when they are involved in family gatherings. It helps build their self esteem when they can see the fruit of their labor being enjoyed by many. While they participate in a large cooking project they also learn cooperation and team spirit. Our younger one always announces that he shredded the lettuce when we serve the salad!
A certain rhythm develops among the people as they work. Children learn to make room for the functioning of another person. It’s like a dance, people keep on taking different positions, occupying new spaces even as they vacate and make space for another. People wait their turn for some equipment. They learn about ingredients, processes and handling of things. They learn about the bounty of nature. The visual splendor of a sliced cabbage, the beautiful red tomatoes on green stems, browns on a well roasted turkey; I can go on. We look at cooking as a life skill, which will help anyone at any stage of their life.
Playing math games is always fun and entertaining. Kids and adults love them. Personally I like playing outdoor math games, but as parents we need to be creative with what we can turn into a game. Cooking’s a neat way to learn some math; proportions, volume, weights, measures, counts etc. – all these come into the picture.
Fun things kids can do in the kitchen
To give you an idea, here is a list of things which our kids have done in the past in our kitchen:
- Shredded lettuce
- Torn apart broccoli
- Cut out cookies
- Slapped dough
- Mashed potato
- Broken up cheese
- Scrubbed vegetables
- Drowned cupcakes in glaze
Reading it now makes me feel like we are bringing up hardened criminals!
There is always a way kids can help out in the kitchen. We just have to find the right thing to interest them, and make sure they are careful while handling equipment(if they do).
2 simple dishes kids can independently prepare
Give them the vegetables and dressing to be used. Let them wash, dry and prepare them. If it’s there first time, teach them, else let them manage. Give them a low work space to convenience them. Some kitchen towels, bowls to wash everything in and a plastic bowl to mix the salad. Once it’s all ready, you could transfer it to a nice glass bowl or plate.
Give the kids the ingredients – cooked potatoes, the dairy you want in the end dish, salt, herbs etc. The kids can peel and mash the potatoes. Then they can add the ingredients in the order you want them to. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Hope your Thanksgiving goes well!