Homeschooling In The Kitchen
Many of our best family memories are often made in the kitchen. Besides all the delicious cooking that goes on there just think of all the potential for ‘unschooled’ learning.
Cooking is packed with natural science and math lessons as well as the opportunity to find out where in the world different foods come from. Besides the academic benefits of cooking it also allows children a chance to explore and to be creative. As an added bonus children will try all kinds of foods if they had a part in making them. What better place to extend your homeschool curriculum than in the kitchen!
Cooking with children can be very messy business, so before you begin homeschooling in the kitchen you may want to decorate some aprons. Most craft stores have plain aprons and a wide array of puffy paint and anything else your children may want to use to personalize their aprons. As a special surprise you may put together a special cooking box for each child. Write each child’s name on their box and place their own set of cooking utensils, measuring cups, and measuring spoons inside of it. You may wish to color code them if you have a large family. Explain that they are responsible for taking good care of their cooking tools! Finally, make sure to spend some time going over the safety rules with your children before you begin cooking.
Here are some ideas to get you started as you begin homeschooling in the kitchen.
Place a map in your kitchen and choose a food focus for the week. You may choose vegetables, fruit, or spices for example. Any time your family eats something that falls into your chosen category have your children look up where it originated and mark it on the map. You may also map the path a food item took to get from where it was grown to your table. Older children may enjoy mapping an entire meal. They may be surprised by how many countries were involved in the evenings meal!
Cooking is a great way to celebrate different cultures. Set aside one night a week as International Cuisine Night. Choose a country each week and research their traditional foods. Let your children plan a menu, help choose recipes, write a grocery list, estimate costs and prepare the meal with you. The best children cookbook I have found is A Kids Can! Book called The Kids Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna F. Cook.
Reading and Writing –
Let your younger children read recipes to you as you cook. They can also write grocery lists as you dictate them to practice their handwriting and word decoding.
Anytime your child has the opportunity to cook they use numeracy skills, measurement, time, and fractions at a very minimum. If you are studying something specific then you can design cooking tasks around your learning objective. For example, you may have them create pizzas and hand out fraction flash cards to decide how much of each toping to place. If you are studying division have your children evenly divide the biscuits or other food. Multiplication? Have them figure out how many of a food item you will need to serve everyone fairly.
Cooking is science at its yummiest! Often when children cook they add ingredients without really knowing what the item does. Next time you make cookies or another simple recipe make two batches and let them experiment with baking soda, salt, and other ingredients. Let them form a hypotheses before cooking it up, Ask guiding questions like, “What do you predict will happen if we leave out the baking soda?” or “What if we add more of this?” Record their answers and then let them try it and see if their hypothesis is correct. Talk about science words like evaporation, condensation, physical change, chemical change, degrees etc. As you cook. Use magnetic letters and make a focus cooking vocabulary word of the day on the fridge. If you have older children scramble it and let them figure it out.
Health and Nutrition -
Discuss the food pyramid with your children and then let them create their own and hang them up in the kitchen. Discuss the importance of a balanced diet and healthy snacks. Let them use tally marks to record how many of each food group they eat from each day on their food pyramid. At the end of the week have them graph their results for each of the food groups.