On-demand classes and activities for your child are a great option when you need an activity at any time of day. ActivityHero provides a wide variety of on-demand content that can be used at any time, free of any cost! Here are our favorite free, on-demand options.
What’s your favorite movie – Cars, Frozen, or maybe The Avengers? Did you know that computer technology is behind the making of all of your favorite movies? This video shows children exciting state-of-the-art technologies and how they are applied in the real world!
This class will focus on (1) a review of the basics of nutrition, and (2) how to use the five food groups to create a healthy, well rounded, delicious meal. Some of the student activities will include (1) preparing their own individual menu for a stir-fry (2) watching Dr. Mary cook a nutritious stir-fry, and (3) several choices of posters to create.
Have fun baking a dessert with your kids and learn some science at the same time with this DIY Solar Oven by Beau Coffron, in partnership with Home Depot. All you need is an old pizza box and a handful of tools and materials. In just a few easy steps, you’ll have created an innovative solar oven!
Join Madame Barbara from Springs French Music Lingua for a fun introductory class and learn the Itsy Bitsy Spider in French. This is a 22-minute previously recorded live online class. Download the coloring page for additional reinforcement of the French vocabulary.
In this FREE video you’ll learn how to make the perfect pie shell. You’ll learn how to create pie dough and then how best to roll out out and form it into a pie pan. This lesson is for a pie shell for sweet pies. The method can be used for quiche and tart shells by changing just a few ingredients.
In this on-demand class you will learn the basics of Inkscape while creating your very own winter theme card. We’ll learn how to create a basic winter scene, including how to make some basic evergreen trees, snow flakes, and form a snow man. You can print and use the card you create as a holiday card, or a card to bring in some winter time cheer.
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.
Whether 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.
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.
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!
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 ~
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.
Here’s a new recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them trying new flavors.
Chicken curry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “kid food”, but this simple chicken curry will convert even the pickiest of eaters. Plus, the younger you start introducing kids to spices and unfamiliar foods, the easier it is to integrate new flavors, textures and tastes into your family eating repertoire.
If you’re not a curry maker, this is a great “curry starter” as it requires minimal spices, preparation, and cooking skill. It’s also a great recipe for kids to make. You can serve it with rice or store-bought naan bread. Add a dollop of yogurt to further “cool” the dish.
1 pound chicken thighs or breast cut into 1-inch cubes (save time by asking the butcher to do this for you)
2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 inch piece ginger, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup Greek or other plain yogurt
1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of chili flakes or powder (optional)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (you can also use ghee or a combination of oil and ghee)
1 small onion, chopped finely
½ cup water or chicken stock
Marinate chicken in yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and chilli (if using). Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, or until onion is golden and softened.
Add the chicken with the marinade along with the water or chicken stock. Stir and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 20-25 minutes till the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender.
Simple Garam Masala Recipe
Many grocery stores these days carry spice blends, including garam masala. Pop into a local Indian market if you have one nearby as the spices are usually fresh and inexpensive.
If not, it’s easy to make your own garam masala for this and other Indian recipes by blending spices you may already have in your pantry. Whenever possible, grinding whole spices will yield the most flavorful, vibrant results. With fresh, fragrant garam masala on hand you can experiment by using it to season roast chicken, vegetables or even popcorn! Spice mixes also make wonderful teacher gifts, so consider making extra!
Neelam Patil’s Bliss Belly Kitchen takes a whole new approach to culinary skills. They not only offer eco-conscious and soul conscious cooking classes using farm fresh ingredients, but they also take the time out to use yoga and mindfulness to give children the best possible connection to themselves and to the land — the source of where their food comes from. At Bliss Belly Kitchen, a happy mind starts with a healthy belly.
Here, Chef Neelam shares a simple, fresh salad to add to your warm summer days that is perfect for outdoor parties or indoor family dinners.
The Culinary Dude‘s goal is simple and meaningful: Empower students with the culinary skills to become self-sufficient, and to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, and their future. Here, owner and chef, Scott Davis, shares with us a fresh and simple recipe to try along with your kids – the perfect summer salad for the pool or on the beach!
From ‘MasterChef Junior’ to ‘Chopped Teens’, more kids than ever are learning to navigate their way around the kitchen. Cooking with kids not only teaches them a valuable life skill, but encourages them to use math and critical thinking skills, gets them trying new foods, and provides plenty of opportunities to talk about making healthy food choices.
Here’s a recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them to try a few new flavors.
By varying the basic theme of “rice with toppings,” you can take your family on a world tour: from New Orleans-style red beans and rice to Japanese donburi, Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (pigeon peas), Hawaiian loco moco, to Korean bibimbap.
Korean bibimbap, which means ‘mixed rice’, is one of our favorite global rice bowl variations. It’s a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Traditionally, it combines a variety of fresh and cooked seasoned vegetables, as well as small portions of marinated meat, egg, or tofu (sometimes all three). You can keep things simple by choosing just a few toppings, or go all out with six or seven. In any case, it’s always fun to use bibimbap as an opportunity to try out a new ingredient or flavor alongside more familiar ones.
Another reason we love bibimbap is because it’s a great example of the vivid flavor and color combinations you’ll find throughout Korean cuisine. In fact, a guiding principle of Korean cooking is to bring together five colors (red, yellow, white, green and black) and five flavors (sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter). Kids will love the chance to go on a culinary scavenger hunt, looking for these colors and flavors in their own unique bowls.
Looking to put some “spring” into your home cooking routine? We asked the head chef at a kids’ cooking school to share handy tips and a delicious recipe.
By Wendy Chou
Cooking for kids can feel like a thankless task. When kids reject new foods and haven’t got a clue how much effort went into prepping a meal, it’s easy to get frustrated. Now consider cooking with kids. Having your kid help in the kitchen can break down some of their prejudices and teach them to appreciate where real food comes from. ActivityHero talked with Chef Cindy Roberts of the popular Bay Area-based “La Toque De Cindy” cooking school to hear how an expert helps kids learn to cook.
Cooking is Fun… and Practical
Each of Roberts’ weekly summer camps showcases a different type of cooking: chocolate, world cuisine, and handmade pizzas and pastas are just some of the tempting offerings this year. She likes to emphasize the joy and creativity inherent in cooking. Cindy Roberts started cooking at the age of 3 and believes cooking can inspire as well as educate. “I focus on the “fun” aspect of cooking,” Roberts points out, “but it’s my sneaky way to teach them the health, cost and taste benefits of home cooking.”
Getting Kids to Try New Things
Roberts knows one way parents can broaden the palette of picky eaters: give them a say. “Have them taste test something… and suggest improvements,” advises Roberts. In her cooking classes, asking the kids to experiment directly with ingredients “gets even the most finicky eaters trying out what we made and giving it a second chance.” In other words, the more they know about how a dish is put together, the more they can keep an open mind, even about foods they weren’t keen on at the outset.
When asked what the kids in her classes find most surprising about cooking, Roberts says that young chefs are completely “surprised at how easy it is to make some of the products they buy packaged at the grocery store,” including basics like chicken stock and mayonnaise. The homemade versions wind up being fresher and better-tasting. Empowerment and self-confidence: these two ingredients are welcome on any family menu.
Try It at Home
Here’s a savory spring-inspired recipe for you to try at home with your kids. The kid chefs at La Toque loved it (and ate their vegetables)!
Leek and Olive Tart
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Adapted by Cindy Roberts from Field of Greens cookbook
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 ½ – 3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized leeks, white part only, cut in half then thinly sliced
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 small whole olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley
3 or 4 eggs (use fewer if using jumbo eggs)
1 ½ cup half and half
½ teaspoon minced lemon zest (optional)
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, about 2/3 cup
MAKE THE SHELL: Mix flour, salt, butter and shortening until mixture has the appearance of small peas.
Add water a little at a time until dough holds together. Press into greased quiche pan (or pie pan).
MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Saute the leeks for a few minutes until starting to wilt with ½ teaspoon salt and a few pinches of pepper. Add the garlic, cover and sweat for about 7 minutes. Remove the lid and sauté 2 minutes more.
Mix leeks in a bowl with olives, thyme and parsley.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Beat the eggs with the half and half. Add ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and optional lemon zest.
Spread the cheese over the bottom of the tart dough, followed by the leek mixture. Pour the cream mixture over. Bake for 40 minutes until set.
Chef Cindy’s Tip:
The amount of participation is easy to modify depending on age. “Kids as young as 4 could assemble. At age 8, kids could make the crust themselves. By age 10 they could make it all on their own!”
Ready to explore more cooking? Find cooking camps and classes near you by visiting ActivityHero.com.
Cooking with children is one of the greatest joys and frustrations of parenting. While it can create a love of healthy food — as well as self-sufficiency as they get older — finding recipes can be challenging. For the Littles, the challenge is in finding recipes to match their skills. For elementary-school kids, the challenge is in finding foods that they’re willing to eat. For teens, it’s in finding recipes that are more interesting than Snapchat.
It’s worth the effort, though: Cooking with kids has a range of benefits. From making math fun to sharing fundamental life skills to spending quality time together, preparing food can be a tool, as well as an experience. If you’re trying to instill healthy eating habits in your child, you want to have them learn the value of ingredients from the time they can walk. And some of the best childhood memories include standing with Mom while holiday dinner cooks on the stove, of sneaking a taste before the meal was done. With all of this in mind, we’ve put together a roundup of recipes for kids of all ages to make cooking fun for the whole family.
The Littles: Cooking with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Getting toddler-aged children into the kitchen can seem overwhelming. They jump around and have no patience. Their ability to pay attention seems like that of a goldfish — Ooh! Shiny! However, parents need to teach Littles the value of healthy, homemade food from a young age to build good habits. While it may require some effort ahead of time to prepare and pre-measure, the long-term results of raising children who love to cook makes it worthwhile. Here are two perfect choices for getting your Littles engaged in food prep.
Most kids love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. One way to add more nutrients (while still keeping the grumpy eater happy) is to turn it into a smoothie. Kids love smoothies because they think they’re “getting away with something” by drinking a meal. The addition of yogurt and strawberries adds vitamins, protein, and calcium — and the subtraction of bread means it’s a great gluten-free option for kids with an allergy. Since any Little can push a button, it’s the perfect recipe to whip up together!
One of the first foods a lot of people feed their kids is avocado because it’s soft and nutritious. What parents may not think about? If their children like avocado, guacamole is a really great way to teach Littles how to cook. Once the grown-up measures out the ingredients and slices the avocado, all that’s left is to dump and stir — skills that are perfect for the Littles. Best of all, there’s no hot oven or stove. (And the result is something green and gooey!) If you want to start cooking with your kids early in their life, guacamole is a delicious, healthy way to engage their interest.
The Middles: Cooking with Grade-Schoolers and Tweens
Anyone with an elementary-school child knows that, as kids get older, they get fussier. At some point, children move from the pre-toddler eating-mangoes-and-avocado stage to the “I will only eat hot dogs and pasta with butter!” tantrum stage. This means that teaching them how to make healthier options is even more important for this age group. For those nights when your Middles have decided that your home-cooking is gross and icky — or those days they don’t like the lunches you pack — it’s important for them to be able to make something other than cereal.
As kids move into these school years, they also start to notice differences more. Kids who need to be wheat-free may feel excluded at snack or lunch. For these kids, learning to bake foods that are fun and tasty can be life-changing. With healthy sugar-substitutes of maple syrup or honey, as well as the option to substitute soy milk, Mollie Katzen has the perfect recipe for wheat-free muffins.
Although baking is something all kids like to do because the outcome is so much fun, teaching healthy eating habits means making real meals as well. Almost every child loves pizza. The best part about pizza is that it’s easy to make at home … and it’s a food that all ages can help to make. Taking a family fast-food favorite and making it healthier, like with this Eating Well whole-wheat pizza dough recipe, means that you can give your children a head start on enjoying healthier options. The best part of pizza? If your Middles have younger siblings, the Littles can help, too, doing everything from pouring in pre-measured ingredients to sprinkling (or dumping!) on cheese to choosing their own toppings. Of course, give your Middles a bit of added responsibility: Maybe they can do the measuring?
The Bigs: Cooking with Teens
Teenagers. Someone once said that a parent’s job is to make themselves irrelevant. As teens move through high school towards adulthood and independence, one of the best skills parents can teach is cooking. Being self-sufficient means preparing food from start to finish, which should be less of a challenge if your Bigs have been learning to cook since they were Littles.
With the SuperBowl right around the corner, your teen might consider planning a get-together to watch the game with friends. As teens begin to socialize on their own, giving them a sense of control over not just their friendships but where and how they socialize can empower them. This means that when you provide them the opportunity to prepare sandwiches, dip, and rollups for their party, you’re helping them grow into their identity. It also gives you time to begin selecting some recipes to make once the nest is empty.
Help Kids Build “Mad” Kitchen Skills
Want some other kitchen activities to try with your kids? The BBC Good Food website lists the skills that kids should be able to master at various ages and offers links to additional recipes that are age appropriate. Or sign up your Littles, Middles or Bigs for a cooking class in your local area!
Need something entertain your kids when they’re not at school? These 8 easy, at-home maker activities will keep hands busy and minds sharp.
By the Editors of ActivityHero
What’s the solution for beating kids’ “brain drain” while on extended school closures? Maker activities! According to the education website Edutopia, “A Maker is an individual who communicates, collaborates, tinkers, fixes, breaks, rebuilds, and constructs projects for the world around him or her.” (It’s easy to see why the Maker philosophy has become so popular!)
Luckily, ActivityHero has a close relationship with hundreds of summer camp counselors and activity providers who know a thing or two about maker activities and where to find them. Here are a few of our editors’ favorites – and a handful of helpful websites where you can find enough ideas to last all year long.
Here’s a clever solution for those weeks when you can’t make it to the craft store: Sign up for a monthly subscription to Kiwi Crate. This company delivers – directly to your home – everything you need to “tinker, create, and innovate.” Each Kiwi Crate is chock-full of high-quality materials, kid-friendly instructions, a maker project, and a special magazine, all designed for ages 5 to 8. For ages 9 to 16+, the site also offers Doodle Crates (for art enthusiasts) and Tinker Crates (for STEM subject fans). Preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) can enjoy playful fun with a Koala Crate, which includes a parent guide to support “inquiry-based learning,” a magazine, and plenty of creative activities.
Here’s a squeaky-clean indoor activity from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. All you need is a bar of Ivory soap and a microwave. Follow the instructions carefully, using just one-third or one-quarter of the bar; if you toss in the whole bar, your soap blob will grow to mammoth proportions. Also allow the “soap cloud” to cool for a bit and test the temperature yourself before letting kids touch it. Then check out the website for some fun things to do with the fluffy soap after ooh-ing and ahh-ing over its expansion. Sudsy snowballs anyone?
Build a Brushbot
You may be familiar with Science Buddies as a resource for winning science-fair project ideas, kits, and guides. It’s also a great place to find summer projects like this brushbot, which was created by a Ph.D., and includes a materials list, complete instructions, and ideas for ways to “explore more” once the project is complete. Take a look at their “Awesome Science for Summer Break!” page for more cool ideas, including how to make a paper speaker, build a mini trebuchet, and generate electricity with a lemon battery. Complete kits for projects like these are also available at the Science Buddies online store.
Cool Off with Ice Cream in a Bag
On Growing a Jeweled Rose, ideas abound for parents searching for ways to help kids play, learn, and grow. Their offerings include plenty of “play recipes,” which is delicious fun for kids who love to spend time in the kitchen. One of our favorites during warm weather is Ice Cream in a Bag! Even very little children can help make this concoction using heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar. (You’ll also need salt and ice cubes, but those don’t go in the creamy mixture.) After the project is put together, it takes 5 to 10 minutes of shaking to create an ice creamy treat, which means your children will use up some of that kid energy. View their 100+ Play Recipes right here.
Create Wind-Powered Lego Contraptions
On Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls, Lego projects abound – in fact, there’s a whole section that includes activities and projects using these colorful bricks. The Lego windmill shown here requires a few special bricks and a couple of minutes to assemble, but your kids can create their own options using whatever Lego bricks they have on hand. (Be sure you supervise them when using a fan.) Click on the site’s LEGOS tab for Lego engineering ideas using pulleys, a Lego matching game, and a Lego Minifigure display.
Other tabs lead you to activities for babies and kids of all ages, family fun, homeschooling, seasonal projects, and even a special section to help you organize toys and clean up after projects … in a fun but frugal way.
Bake Some Movie Night Cupcakes
If you’d prefer to do your “making” in the kitchen, why not have some creative baking kits and mixes delivered to your home? Visit Foodstirs, a website created by Sarah Michelle Gellar and two of her closest friends. We unanimously voted two thumbs up on the Movie Night Cupcake Kit – for a fun twist to your standard movie night snacks. To learn where the delicious idea for Foodstirs originated, read the interview ActivityHero snagged with Sarah Michelle when she wasn’t busy cooking up a storm.
Earn Patches for All Sorts of Projects
If your kids love a little extra incentive, consider joining DIY, an ad-free website designed to be “The School We Wish We Had.” This website provides thousands of activities for kids and is a safe, supportive online learning community with 99.7% kind comments in its posts. Try it free for 14 days!
On this site, kids can explore new skills or increase their proficiency in activities they love. They can take part in a challenge, receive feedback from other kids, and earn patches for their work. Many of them also share photos or videos of their accomplishments (with parental permission and using an avatar), and other kids can turn to them for inspiration. Along the way, staff mentors offer help and encouragement when needed, and parents can access reports to see what DIY activities their kids are trying.
Trending topics include a daily challenge, science, Lego, Minecraft, and stopmotion. To join the community, visit DIY.org or download the app on your iPhone or iPad.
Have a budding chef in your house? Or maybe you’re a foodie who would love to impart your knowledge of unique cuisines to your kids? Letting kids sample some cooking-themed media will provide them with information on kitchen gadgets and techniques that can prep them for one day donning the chef’s hat (or at least the sous chef’s hat) in your kitchen. Below is a list of kids’ cooking TV shows, apps, movies, and books that are wholesome and delicious.
This popular app combines creativity, fine motor skills, and lots of sugar! Kids mix dough, roll it out, then cut out cookies, and finally, decorate them.
Dr. Panda Restaurant Asia
Role playing as chef in their own restaurant is great fun for children using this app. Kids choose their kitchen tools and food. No keeping score; just fun and creativity in the virtual kitchen.
Movies for Kids Who Love to Cook
“Friendly rat as high-end French chef” is this Pixar gem in a nutshell. As a bonus, parents and kids alike will enjoy this film.
Hard work and a positive attitude are served up in this fascinating documentary about a group of Philadelphia high school students who are challenged all year in a high-end cooking class. The ultimate reward is competing for a culinary scholarship and a chance for a college education.
Food-meets-science-meets-humor in this kid-friendly series. A different technique or ingredient is showcased each episode, with food facts, history, and general goofiness in equal parts.
Creative competition is the focus in this series. Talented kid chefs inspire, create, and ultimately impress.
No Kitchen Required
World-class chefs compete in foreign locales, featuring native ingredients, traditional recipes, and a tough set of critics … the local residents.
One of our all-time favorite stars is now a mom launching her own business — find out what inspired her new line of baking kits.
By ActivityHero Staff
ActivityHero: What inspired you to take your kids to the kitchen?
Sarah Michelle Gellar: As a busy parent, I am always looking to find ways to engage in true quality time as a family. While I am not anti screen time, I do believe a balance is necessary. My kids were showing a great interest in the kitchen, not just the actual eating but the preparation as well. I’ve always been aware of the benefits that can be found by engaging in the kitchen, from the development of fine and gross motor skills to language to mathematical and scientific knowledge and, most importantly, true connection. It has even been found to lower the rate of depression and obesity. (My favorite study was one done on Rhodes Scholars where the common link was found to be family dinners rather than socioeconomic status, religion, or ethnicity.)
My kids, not surprisingly, were really interested in baking. Since complete scratch baking overwhelmed me, I looked to my grocery store for help. I was shocked by the ingredients I found in the traditional mixes: bleached flour, heavy salt, and not to mention the dyes and preservatives.
AH: So you decided to create something better?
SMG: Inspired to create better options, Foodstirs was born. We consider our company the answer for “modern bakers.” At the heart of our company, our goal is to offer consumers a better baking experience focused on amazing taste, contemporary nutrition (non-GMO ingredients, organic flour, biodynamic sugar, no artificial dyes and flavors), and creating real connections. We offer a range of not just our signature mixes, but also our creative kits.
AH: Any tips for other moms and dads who want to get their kids more interested in cooking and food?
SMG: Cooking and especially baking is now part of our everyday routine. We love to come up with new ideas to make as a family. The supermarket trip is no longer a chore but a learning lab, where we discuss labels and ingredients and look for inspiration. And the time we spend together in the kitchen, being creative, is priceless.
We’ve put together a special offer just for ActivityHero where you can get 30% OFF your first purchase – just use promo code ACTIVITYHERO.
A chef — and a former picky eater — shares surprising ways that cooking classes help kids with finicky taste buds branch out.
By Haley Burress
Dinner time should be an opportunity for your family to gather around the table and catch up on the events of the day. But if you’re busy being a short-order cook and catering to (or arguing with) a fussy eater, you’re not likely to have that Norman Rockwell moment.
We are willing to bet that you have tried almost everything to inspire your picky eater to try “just one bite,” but according to The Culinary Dude’s Scott Davis, you might just need to bring another person to the table — specifically, a professional chef. No, we don’t mean as your private cook, but as your child’s instructor. Enrolling your child in a hands-on cooking class can expose him to new ways of preparing food, inspire him to try new fare, and provide him with a valuable life skill that will serve him well after he leaves home. It might even lead to a lifelong passion: Some chefs, including The Culinary Dude himself and Michael Voltaggio of Top Chef fame, started out as unsure and picky eaters.
Here, Davis explains how a chef-led cooking class can help all kids (including the picky ones) venture into more creative culinary territory.
A New (and Neutral) Face
When it comes to picky eating, “parenting tactics can only take you and your child so far,” says Davis. “Having an experienced third party involved who can offer new experiences and advice can take the situation from bad to great.”
You are likely no stranger to the neutral-party teaching strategy: You may have passed off your kindergartner to a swimming instructor and watched her paddle across the pool in no time, though she would never go underwater when it’s just you and her. And you are fascinated when you hear your child’s teacher sing the praises of his good behavior, though there are times you can’t get him to sit still for four minutes. These teachers and instructors are key members of your child’s village and experience. Why not get a chef involved to work similar magic in the realm of food education?
A Low-Pressure Environment
“I never force a kid to eat something that he doesn’t want to,” says Davis. “That low-pressure atmosphere is established first thing in my classes.” At home, picky eaters are often forced to eat certain foods, which can cause kids to dig in their heels even more. In contrast, a cooking class is often low pressure. Kids don’t have to try new things in the class, but chances are they will. After all, the rest of the class is sampling what they made, and they all worked hard on the dish together. Nine times out of ten, says Davis, kids will try the dish — even if they thought they wouldn’t at the beginning of the class, based solely on the ingredients list. Watching a child try a food that was once on his forbidden list is a step in the right direction!
Children are not always free to help with meal preparations at home. Older kiddos are often doing homework at the kitchen table instead of chopping veggies, while preschoolers may be coloring instead of mixing ingredients. However, group cooking classes often succeed with picky eaters in part because of the role that kids take in preparing various dishes.
“Kids in cooking classes should be empowered and involved with every step of the dish,” says Davis. “At the end of the hour, they are able to look at the finished product and know that they had a major part in making it.” Davis says that picky eaters may have an aversion to an ingredient on the prep table at the beginning of the class, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still help with the dish. “You may not like tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t chop a tomato,” affirms Davis.
At the end of the chopping and dicing, stirring and mixing, kids become chefs — and experts at the dish they have created from scratch. Even if the kids try the completed dish and don’t like it, they often will take it home to share with parents or siblings because they know how hard they worked on it, says Davis. Kids who prepare meals are proud of their work, and they can then lead a “family cooking night” in their home kitchen, using the recipes that they bring home after each class.
A New Preparation
Kids are sometimes picky because they have been exposed to only one particular way of making a food. Davis focuses on preparing the same ingredient in a variety of ways so that kids can see that roasted cauliflower florets, for instance, are not the same as mashed cauliflower … or that basil isn’t the same as Thai basil. Cooking classes encourage kids to get a little curious and experimental in the kitchen, which can lead to some new ways of trying foods. Broccoli brownies, anyone?
A Focus on the Positive
Your picky eater isn’t going to change overnight, but the more you can support the skills and lessons he learns in cooking classes, the quicker he will develop a more well-rounded palate. After class, ask your child about the recipe he worked on, or see if he would like to help you prepare ingredients (dicing, chopping, etc.) the next time you are cooking.
Also, try to refrain from saying “but you never liked….” when you hear that your child tried a food in class. Instead, focus on the positive, saying, “I’m so happy you liked this salad — that is great!” Then, breathe a tiny sigh of relief because perhaps your child will, in fact, grow up to eat things that are green.
Get Your Kids Their Own Chef!
Ready to ignite your child’s passion for new foods? Get him or her started in a group cooking class with a chef instructor! Check out our list of classes near you at ActivityHero. After plenty of time to experiment and prepare, and to taste and taste again, your child will be on the road to a more varied diet.
Disgusting recipes are a win-win: You show kids some valuable life skills in the kitchen, and they get to gross you out! Check out these delicious, disgusting offerings from some of our favorite bloggers.
By Jillian Chamberlain
What is it with kids and poop? They think it’s hilarious and they love talking about it, usually at the most inappropriate times. (Like, for instance, at the dinner table!) Well, why not use their propensity to be entertained by all things disgusting to get them into the kitchen and interested in food! (If it makes you feel better, cooking with kids is a great way to reinforce math skills, thanks to all of the measuring — and it’s great quality time for both of you!)
I have searched the internet to compile a truly gross recipe roundup for kids from some creative bloggers.
For all of the feline-loving fans out there, Kitty Litter Cake is sure to be a hit! There are many recipes out there for Kitty Litter Cake; however, I happen to think that this presentation from Katherine Marie Photography is one of the best looking! WARNING: Make sure you use a NEW kitty litter box and a NEW kitty poop scoop. Or, if that’s too gross for you: Use a baking pan and slotted spatula!
“Used Band-Aid” Snacks
Katherine Marie Photography seems to have the market cornered on beautiful photography of truly nasty snacks! Cinnamon graham crackers, frosting and a strawberry jelly is all you need to make these snacks. I would even try swapping out the frosting for cream cheese, if your kids are into that. These Used Band-Aid snacks are easy to make and sure to please.