Cooking Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Kids in the Kitchen: Age Appropriate Cooking Tips

Want your child to develop a love of cooking and baking? Here, we share age-appropriate tips to help kids have fun in the kitchen.

Young child having age-appropriate fun in the kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen.jpgWhether we like it or not, cooking is something everyone needs to learn to do in order to have a healthy and fruitful life.  It is our choice whether we approach cooking with a great attitude or a sour attitude, but even more importantly, what will be the attitudes of our kids in the kitchen?

Most kids are very open and excited to help in the kitchen, it is usually us as parents that don’t have the patience or feel we lack the skill to teach anything relevant about cooking to our kids.  Let me assure you, anything you do in the kitchen with your kids equates to a fun time and great learning experience.  So enjoy your time together and let’s go!

The benefits of cooking with your kids are enormous.  When you start to think about all of the things that kids learn from a simple cooking lesson, you are going to want to have them with you in the kitchen all the time.

Find Online Cooking Classes for Kids>>

Think about some of these benefits:

  • Bonding Together ~ No explanation there.

  • Kids are learning to be self sufficient and independent ~ you may want those kids to live with you forever now BUT trust me, you won’t when they turn 18!

  • Math Skills ~ Estimating, Fractions, Measuring, Liquid vs Dry Measuring

  • Nutrition ~ Be sure and talk all about the foods as you cook and how beneficial they are to your body!

  • Satisfying the Senses ~ Ahhh doesn’t that smell so good!

  • Confidence ~ That’s a big one.  For a child to help with a whole recipe or meal, YES a huge confidence builder which spills over into other areas of their lives.

  • Picky eaters will eat better!  They love to be involved in food choices and meal planning, it helps them to be more in control over what they eat.  Let them help (with a little guidance of course)

  • Imagination ~ Creating and experimenting with foods uses all kinds of imagination!

Don’t you just want to invite your kids in the kitchen now! Here are some activities and foods that you might use to include your kids from the earliest age:

For the very littles, Toddlers ~

  • Bring a high chair into the kitchen and give them kitchen utensils to play with, NO not a knife!  Spatulas, Spoons, Measuring Cups (plastic)  etc. Dollarphotoclub_53035402.jpg

  • Put a tiny bit of water into a bowl and let them use a spoon to scoop and pour.

  • If the child is old enough not to put things in their mouths, you can put dried beans into a bowl and let them stir the beans for dinner.

  • If it’s near mealtime, exchange the beans for cheerios and fishy crackers to keep them happy.

Using these little utensils with food and water is a sensory and motor skills blast. Maybe a bit messy but who cares!  Smiles make up for that!

3 to 5 years ~

  • Pudding Painting ~ Make pudding per package directions (together) then let them paint on a cookie sheet with edges, wax paper or freezer paper.  This makes food fun AND tasty!Dollarphotoclub_62937612.jpg

  • Pizza Muffins ~ Let the children have a Muffin (cut in half by you) then give them a little sauce (spaghetti sauce works great) and cheese in a bowl.  Let them spread and sprinkle onto the Muffin with a spoon!  You can also make Homemade Bagel Bites.

6 and Up ~

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  • Make Homemade Pizza Dough or buy it at the store.  Let them roll out the dough and top with spaghetti sauce, cheese and any other toppings they love.

  • Have them fill up celery sticks with their favorite filling; Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter

  • Cut up some cheese and cut out shapes with cookie cutters (littles can do this too)

As kids get older, you decide when they are ready, start to teach them Math concepts.  This does not mean you have to teach them Algebra.  Some of the concepts you can teach are; Estimating and Fractions.  Show them that measuring dry ingredients is different than measuring wet ingredients.  Math can be fun when you cook.

Play kitchen games. Kitchen games?  Yes!  Some of these might include:

  • Teaching kids the different smells and tastes of different spices, foods, liquids.  Pick a few different ingredients in your kitchen, then take turns blindfolding each other.  The person with the blindfold has to taste and smell an ingredient and guess what it is.  You have to do this too Mom and Dad, so choose wisely the ingredients you will use. HA!

  • Use tongs to move ice cubes, cotton balls, strawberries, grapes from one bowl to another.  See who can do it the fastest (that is if there will be no tears)

  • Create different shapes and sizes of Sugar Cookies and Decorate!

The benefits and fun that accompany cooking with kids FAR outway the mess and patience you need to muster up to have your kids in the kitchen.   when kids know how to fix easy and healthy foods they are much less likely to reach for the snack foods or beg for fast food.

Big and small the kitchen should be a comfortable fun place for everyone to use their imagination while creating and eating delicious foods.

Find Online Cooking Classes for Kids>>

Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

17 Tips to See if Basketball is Good for Your Child

About 8 years ago my world changed as we entered the unknown territory of Basketball.  It was totally unintentional, just a homeschooling Mom wanting to give her kids a chance to get some good cardio exercise and maybe a chance for me to catch a little break at the same time.

From the moment my daughter hit that gym floor, she was destined to be a basketball player, along with her little sister who would soon follow in her footsteps.  Having had 5 older children, I pretty much thought that I knew everything there was to know about sports…I didn’t.  Not for this generation of kids anyway!kids and basketball.jpg

You see the level of competition is tenfold compared to the level 15 years ago.  There are things I wished I had considered and known before we ever delved so deep into this world called Basketball.

In order to help you navigate and make an informed decision I’ve compiled these tips to see if basketball is for your child

The Bonus Side of Basketball:

  • This seems obvious, but the amount of exercise that playing basketball brings to your child is so beneficial.  It gets their cardio up for a good hour, all while having fun with teammates.  It builds stamina which can be helpful for happy moods too!

  • Coordination skills are built up by dribbling down the court and switching from left to right hands.

  • Confidence is built while looking opponent’s eye to eye and not getting flustered or being fearful.  Confidence is also built by learning to make baskets.

  • Good sportsmanship is learned as players learn to work as team and not be selfish with the ball.  Kids also learn how to have compassion on the other team when someone is hurt, such as kneeling or leaving the court and clapping when the hurt player is ok.

  • Kids learn to trust and obey another adult other than yourself during a game situation.  This seems scary, but if you have done your homework on your coaches, this can be very encouraging.

  • Kids learn what good healthy competition is all about.  They learn to win with grace and lose with grace.

  • Each child is different, but most have their own individual areas of growth they need to  work on.  Working with others brings these areas out into the light, therefore giving them a chance to grow. (crying to much, sharing, etc.)

  • Many wonderful lifelong friendships can be built.

The Caution Side of Basketball:

Many of these little cautions could be for any sport your children participate in.

  • Basketball is a physical game.  I did not really realize how physical it was until my girls started playing.

  • There may be 10 players, but not every child is on the court at the same time.  Very young kids can have a hard time with this at first.

  • In my opinion, basketball isn’t really for the very young.  It is simply too hard to bounce a ball and play a game all at the same time.  Wait until they are around 2nd or 3rd grade for this sport, it will help them to succeed, rather than fail and be frustrated.

  • Count the cost! Financially, physically and emotionally.  As kids get older the cost of doing sports can be a real drain on the pocket book.  The time it takes going to practices and actual games can also take away from other things you may want to do as a family.

  • Don’t try to make your child be something that they are not.  If your child is not enjoying playing basketball or any sport, don’t make them.  Not everyone is created for sports, even if you tend to be favorable toward them.  Pushing them can only lead to a disaster.

  • Speaking of disaster, sports are suppose to be FUN!  Even with both of my girls now in High School and playing on the Varsity Girls Basketball team, we push FUN!  The older kids get, the more serious sports get.  Don’t lose the fun or your kids will lose their passion.

  • Basketball is a cut sport.  As kids get older they will face try-outs, cuts and sitting on the bench during game time and so on.  It’s just plain hard, but it’s also good for character as in real life…not everyone gets chosen for everything.  OUCH!

  • Don’t let basketball or any sport become your whole life…it’s easy to do.  Make sure you do other things as a family.

  • Make sure you child has an EXCELLENT Coach.  Coaches are competitive and a small few can become overly emotional which leads to outbursts of anger and sometimes belittling.  Believe it or not, people have their children on teams with Coaches like this. DON’T be one of them.

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You will need decide if your child and family are ready to try basketball or any team sport. Although basketball has it’s ups and downs, our family has found a way to have fun and navigate the sports world while still enjoying a bit of life on the side.

Ready? Look for basketball camps or basketball classes near you!

Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Indoor Gardening With Kids

It may be the end of January but the sun is shining in our neck of the woods, which is actually pretty unusual for this time of year.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is usually freezing in January!

Whether the sun is shining in your area or not, this is the time of year that kids get antsy from being indoors a good amount of time.  So it’s a great time for gardening with kids and for igniting their imagination, to dream, plan and create!

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Gardening with kids at this time of year?  Yes!  What do you think of when you think of a garden?  Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs?  A huge garden in a country backyard or a petite garden in the inner city?

I happen to believe that all children should have the confidence and knowledge to know that they can plant a seed in the ground and learn how to nurture and care for it in order to see the fruit of their labor.  After all growing flowers, fruits and veggies is a life skill that someday they may need!

Here are a few guidelines that you might like to use to get you started growing a little garden;

  • Make it easy ~ In this day and age of being busy we want things to be easy.  Easy seeds to grow, easy gardens to tend and easy to gather supplies.

  • Purchase child size plastic garden utensils so that the kids have their very own.  Even if you plant a small seed indoors, kids can become familiar with what each utensil does.

  • Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of a garden.  A “garden” can be 1 seed in 1 container on 1 windowsill of your home.  There you have it…an indoor garden.

See how easy a little garden can be?  Let’s further investigate the reasons having a garden with your child is such an awesome thing.

Types of Gardens you can grow with kids:

  • As mentioned above, you can have a teeny tiny garden on your window sill to a big elaborate garden outdoors, but since we are thinking along the lines of indoor gardening, let’s start there.

  • You can plant a seed in any kind of container you like; buckets, boots, milk cartons, 2 liter pop bottles…anything!  The main thing you need  to have is some drainage on the bottom so that over watering does not occur.  If the container you use doesn’t already have holes, make them.

  • Seeds that grow super easy indoors are Beans,  Radishes,  Onions,  Peas,  Sweet Alyssum,  Nasturtiums,  Parsley.

  • Make sure that you pick a spot in your house that will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.  If you don’t have this, there are special growing light bulbs you can buy at your local garden nursery.

  • Be sure and do the above things together! Planning a garden is a big part of the fun.

Benefits of gardening with kids:

  • Creates a sense of self confidence and self reliance.

  • Stimulates the senses with wonderful smells.  Not to mention the fun of digging in dirt!

  • Kids become curious and start to ask many “scientific” questions: How does the seed grow? How long will it take?  How can we make it grow faster?

  • Parent child bonding happens when doing a fun project together while investigating the wonders of that little seed that is underground.  Use your own sense of wonder Mom and Dad!

Gardening projects to do with kids:

There is no end to the little garden projects you can do with kids, here are just a few!

  • Plant grass in the shape of your child’s handprint ~ super easy and grass grows fast.Grassy Handprint.jpg

  • Seed Sorting ~ Buy different sizes of seeds and sort them, glue them into pictures and then plant them.
  • Create little garden markers (even if you plant one seed) out of popsicle sticks.

  • Create a little chart to keep track of the day you last watered your seeds.  Then make a chart for when your seed starts to grow.  Measure each week out big it is growing.

  • Grow Seed Hair!

  • Gather free catalogs and cut out the pictures, sort by whether they are flowers or vegetables.  Glue them into a little notebook.grow seed hair.jpg

For more ideas on gardening fun with kids you can hop over to this great Pinterest resource with over 64 great ideas or check out nature camps near you.

Teaching patience is hard to teach children.  With gardening, you can be doing other fun projects while they wait patiently for that little seed to pop out of the ground.  Part of being patient if finding other things to do while you wait.

Happy Gardening!