THIS POST IS A PART OF A 31 DAY SERIES TO INVITE OUR KIDS INTO THE KITCHEN. FIND THE REST OF THE SERIES HERE.
So far in the series we have talked about the long view of parenting and how our teaching is instilled drop by drop. I’ve encouraged you to invite your kids in to help with eggs for breakfast and to start early teaching them safe knife skills. The value of chores for young children and a tip for less stress when cooking with kids were mentioned as well.
Hopefully you already have a few new ideas of things you want to try with you kids, a little more vision and a little more motivation to take small steps inviting your kids in the kitchen.
But, our kids can’t always help. Either dinner is too complicated, mom is too tired, or it’s simply not a good time for it. It’s these times when we sometimes need fresh ideas on how to keep our kids busy while we are cooking.
Wednesdays during the series will be dedicated to sharing a few ideas for what we often do when my kids can’t help and I just need to get through dinner prep without pulling out my hair.
Keeping Kids Busy While You Cook
Idea #1 :: Flour Play
Often the simplest and most entertaining activity to keep my kids busy is playing with a small amount of flour. Coupled with a handful of kitchen tools, they will sit engaged for thirty minutes or more scooping, scraping, piling, and spreading the flour across the counter.
- Works for all ages. My youngest started playing with a small amount of flour on her high chair when she wasn’t quite a year old and my eldest still really enjoys the activity as well.
- Set up is easy. I keep a jar of flour specifically purposed for this activity. The flour can be used over and over, though obviously some is lost to the floor. The kitchen tools are easy to take from the drawer and distribute to each child.
- It is open-ended. Kids can play with their flour however they like. Hearing what they come up with is part of the fun.
- Opportunity to practice using kitchen tools. As they scrape the flour and scoop it into a measuring cup, pour it into another bowl, and measure it with a teaspoon, they are practicing using these kitchen tools in a low-pressure way.
- It is safe. Should your toddler decide to taste a pinch, you do not need to be concerned. And chances are good she will decide raw flour is not her favorite snack.
- Playing with flour can be messy. There is no hiding the fact that there will be flour spilled onto the flour and in the lap. However, I have found that the clean-up is actually really easy (and a good opportunity for the kids to help). A quick pass over the flour with the vacuum and a wipe of the clothes with a damp rag is all it takes.
- It takes up counter space. If your counter space is limited, you may not want to give it up to your kids to play with flour. To spare your counter space, a toddler could sit in a high chair with a tray, or a small table could be set up on the kitchen flour on which to play with flour.
The mess once dinner was ready– a small pile of Parmesan cheese from my son’s help on the left, and a small pile of flour from my daughter’s playing on the right.
Have you ever let your kids play with flour?
What is one way you keep your kids occupied while you cook?
Find the rest of the Kids in the Kitchen posts on the series page.