I thought I’d address one of the most exciting activities for the children – and one of the most challenging (but always fun) for their teachers – cooking!
The benefits of cooking activities are numerous. The lessons from cooking apply to so many aspects of everyday life; other than nutrition and healthy eating, you can use cooking to teach lists, counting, weights, volume, concepts of taste (e.g. sour and sweet), temperature; the list goes on and on!
Here is an example of one of my most successful lessons.
I had a mom that came in who worked in a fruit shop. She was happy to bring in a large basket full of fruit (which her employer donated – never underestimate the willingness of the community to get involved).
This mother led the group in preparing a simple fruit salad. The children responded positively to the parent, listening and showing respect. Her son was so proud to have his mom as part of the class. To begin with, we focused on hygiene practices; in particular, the correct method for washing hands (using our songs for this) as well as the importance of keeping our hands clean throughout the cooking experience.
It was a tactile experience for the children – tasting, touching, smelling and seeing the colors of the fruit. Of course, we talked about everything we were doing as we went along, incorporating many of the lessons from above.
It’s always satisfying to be able to sample your cooking and perhaps take some home to share with the family.
Activities like this are ideal, because each child can do their own part – and avoid long waiting times. We had an extra activity set up in the room for the children to be involved in when they had finished cooking. This allows the children to work at their own pace.
That’s one of my simplest, but most effective examples.