Sunday, January 31, 2010

Useful Resources on Kids and Cooking

Dear Parents, I hope you have been enjoying reading experience this blogs on applying cooking to teach our kids.

If you would have noticed, for a lot of the articles, I set out links to information that could be useful to you if not directly, indirectly in your dealing with your kids and the whole cooking experience. Being an accountant, I have also included some elements of finance. Its for your convenience and I thought that a lot of these material, are an excellent choice and provides value for money.

For this entry, i thought to provide some easy reference information and material that could be useful in teaching kids and cooking. The internet is a huge place and there’s just everything of everything everywhere. And sometimes, we just want something simple. How to get the kids to eat or even trying to figure out what to Ccok.

Some of the books and resources are from Amazon and a lot of others from various places, which I thought are quite good.

365 Foods Kids Love to Eat

365 Foods Kids Love to Eat

The bestselling guide to happy, healthy mealtimes with kids.
365 Foods Kids Love to Eat
Here is-the cookbook with carefully chosen, great tasting, good that appeals to the whole family, especially the kids! Encourage healthy attitudes toward food and lifelong, wholesome eating habits with 365 Foods Kids Love to Eat! Perfect for busy parents.

Kid Approved Meals! 13 Weeks Of Breakfast & Lunch Menus That Are Kid-Tested & Mom Approved, With Categorized Grocery Shopping Lists Accompanying Each Menu. Perfect For Homeschool Families, Stay At Home Moms, And Daycare Providers

This site
has some great books and ideas in one page. The prices are also reasonable and constantly with ideal promotions. The books are about recipes but what is more interesting is that there are selected books about cooking and kids.

I do hope enjoy these resources. Do let me know if there are other useful resources for other mums and dads. Glad to post it on the blog

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"I Want to be a Chef" - Build A Business Plan

My 9 year old is determined to be a chef when he grows up. He has been interested in cooking since he was 2 and I perhaps fueled that energy by allowing him into the kitchen and ‘cook’ dishes with real pots and pans.

He feels that serving people food is the best way to make them happy. And he wants to ensure that he has good and tasty meals and more importantly is that everything served at his restaurant must not cost more than a dollar! He reasons that everyone must be able to afford and enjoy good food. He has got the name of the restaurant, which every now and then changes as his experiences change and develops. He had started with “The White Restaurant” and stuck to it for a few years, until recently, he wrote up his menu with name of restaurant changing to “The King’s Restaurant”. He says that anyone who eats at his restaurant is a king. (He did not mention about the queens though!)

I realized that perhaps I should document his thoughts down. I drew up a business plan for him and asked him to put his dreams, plans and action steps.

I thought to myself that he should be reminded of his young thoughts when he grows as well as for my husband and I to reminisce on our young son. It reminds me to say that the internet is a wonderful thing to allow us to pen and share this information with as many people as possible. And who knows, these ideas may just become real someday.

It is a simple plan, I asked him to complete a template with his ideas. It looks something like this. I have summarized it with the items that I asked him to think about. I helped him with it and it now runs to about 4 or 5 pages.

Name of Restaurant/Café
How will your menu look like
What is your theme
Building/corner shop/near a school/city?
What will you sell - Food and Beverages
Who will be your cook?
When do you want it open
What will you price your food and beverage?
Where will you open your restaurant
How many people will work for you
How much money will you need

Children can be taught from young the importance of planning and such and to articulate their dreams. These plans will change over time. But I realized an important aspect of this exercise – which is that getting him into the kitchen and cooking taught me to teach him other things, like thinking about his ambitions, penning them down, to be as specific and to have the entrepreneurial mind set.

I look forward to hearing your views and feedback. I am so quite happy to draw up a
business plan
for the mums out there – just drop me your email in the subscription button to the left.

Happy cooking and teaching your kids to have an ambition while cooking

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mummy, Do Cookies Grow on Trees?

My younger boy, who is five, watched Tiger and Pooh some days ago. The episode was very entertaining and had the usual learning ideas that children should take away.

I can’t remember the exact details now, but Tiger found chocolate cookies ‘growing’ on an oak tree in the 100 acre wood and so everyone thought that the best way to have more cookies was to take one from that tree and plant it. And after some time, everybody should get their very own chocolate cookie tree!

Yesterday, as I was sending my son to school, he asked about cookies and how wonderful if he could have a chocolate cookie tree. He loves chocolate and suggested planting a cookie tree!

This gave me an idea that he should learn where cookies come from. It was about time I showed him and maybe along the way, he’ll learn a thing or two.

Here’s what I did:

1. Look for a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe

2. Next build a shopping list and go shopping for the ingredients

3. Start baking

4. While baking I showed my little one where flour comes from and salt and sugar and chocolate. If possible you either have your computer and the internet handy or prepare pictures beforehand. For older children (6 and above), slip in where the ingredients come from and how it gets here

This will take a bit of effort, a little homework on our part and also because he is not going to believe you immediately when you say that flour comes from wheat and sugar comes from sugar cane and so on.

Here’s a simple family recipe for chocolate chip cookies (I try to keep the recipes simple if the agenda is to teach my kids during that cooking time):

Shopping List

1 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 cups unsalted butter or margarine, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2cups chocolate chips (or more if you like) and of course one last ingredient which you can’t get from the store is lots of hugs and kisses.

You should get about 30 cookies from this recipe.


Preheat oven to 375F

Place the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl and beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture little at a time. (during this time, chat your kids). Get your kids to stir in the chocolate chips. Mold the cookies onto the cooking sheet. Let your kids enjoy this with their little hands – it will be their creation. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes 10. And of course, great time to tidy up and for kids to understand this part too and sharing the responsibility.

Teaching Kids Where Cookies Come From while Cooking is the Best Way to Teach Kids, Dont you think? And you get to eat your product too!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Label your Kitchen and Your House – Learning Words at Home

You know what they say – learning often requires frequent affirmation and repetition.
I found a wonderful secret. We visited our friend during Christmas and her house was plastered with words. She has a 2 year old and she was constantly looking at words because everything in the house from the chair to the stairs and things in the garage and kitchen were labeled!

What better way to teach words and spelling to our little ones or even the slightly bigger ones. It provided us with a reminder on spelling too. As adults we often rely on the computer to correct our spelling.

Labeling stuff in the kitchen is a brilliant way to teach kids about things in the kitchen. You can go one step further by identifying and labeling kitchen things that are dangerous.

This is an easy way to teach kids words especially while cooking. To save time you don’t need to refer to books on teaching kids reading and spelling too much because the words are all around you. And it practically costs nothing – except for the paper (card board) and pen that you are using.

Labeling stuff can take a bit of effort but it is worth it because it saves us a lot of time afterward.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Using the Internet to Teach Kids

I may be digressing a little from the subject of this blog.

But I wanted to share what I recently read in a magazine – it was a very interesting article on using the internet to teach kids. The article provided a list of free tools to help kids with writing, speaking, interacting and thinking.
I have not tried many of them. I very much would love to hear your views if these sites are useful to you and your kids.

These are some useful websites that I thought as parents we can choose to guide our kids but to use them responsibly.


Google Docs makes it easy to share and produce collaborative documents that could be used in almost any curriculum talk


This is one of the many free mind mapping applications available. Why not try a few and see one your kids prefer? I love this site the best because there is color and drawing involved.


This application enables you to capture, save and make a note about anything you or your children come across on the web

And of course your humble email from Google or Yahoo or MSN to connect people.

Personally, I am not a fan of Facebook because it lays too much of our private lives and it provides a very fast way of getting a lot of people on your network which may not be something I want for my kids immediately. I may change my mind in time!

As I am off topic, for those who are interested, please let me know your email address and I will send you the rest on the list.

Subscribe to Teaching Kids While Cooking by Email

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Way with Words – Teach Words While Shopping and Cooking for Dinner

Kids learn words all the time and often it is hard to get them to say it right. It takes a lot of patience especially with smaller kids. My husband and I are constantly looking for ways to teach them proper grammar, saying and speaking right and politely - when they answer the phone, when they greet their friends and family, when they speak to us and others. We even have mini toastmaster’s sessions in our hall, just to teach them a bit of public speaking and putting words together correctly and clearly.

Books also provide a good guide to teaching kids words. We found some great books , not too expensive (less than USD15 some as low as just below USD4.00) just to get them to read and say the words as they read. It also helps with the teaching.

One method that we found was an absolute delight was through the whole cooking process – shopping and cooking. It also helps with managing our time. Between working, caring for the kids and household work, it can be a challenge finding time to teach them anything!

Decide on a menu for the meal or just a list of things you need to get from the market or supermarket.

For example
First Make a list – get your children to sit with and decide what you need to buy:
1. Loaf of Bread
2. Butter
3. Chicken Meat
4. Vegetables – carrots and cabbage
5. Bunch of flowers
6. Small vase
7. Dishwasher
8. Stationery for school
9. Tin opener

2. Start simply – don’t need to complicate it:

“Let's write a list of things we need from the market”
For younger kids, say the alphabet and show them what you have written. They would automatically start recognizing words.

Continue the process purposefully.

‘Do we need this or do we need that.’
The most important of all is to ensure that your kids are involved in the shopping process. Make sure that they hold the list – it works wonders to ensure that they are focused, them and a sense of accomplishment.

Remind them what a great job they did by complementing their efforts and responsibility in getting the shopping done and that you had not forgotten anything.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Experience Cooking with Kids - Memories Your Children will carry forever

I found through my kids that cooking is a great advantage and a powerful tool. Through cooking and being in the kitchen, they have gained confidence, developed language skills and their imagination.

These are pictures of a menu that my son came up with. He used ordinary stuff he found around the house – pictures of food from books and magazines and toy food and play money. He glued them to a note pad he found lying around and he presented it as his menu with vegetables, meat and fruit and the prices to go with it.

Over time, he also wrote a cookbook (with me to help). He decorated it himself and we wrote down the recipes – some were ours and some were from books. He was extremely proud of the cookbook because it was his creation and we were always referring to it to cook. We are slowly building on the cookbook with family recipes and recipes we pick up as we go along.

These are simple activities but fun and the children learn a lot;
- Have your kids work together to write a cookbookand let them decorate it as they like – use things from around the house – colored paper, perhaps a hard cover for the cover of the book, pencil colors and other stationery. They could also paste dried leaves, spices and other things from the kitchen. Don’t forget teaching also happens when they label them.

- Help your kids write a menu – have them decorate it. Let them have a go at what to serve – appetizers, main meal, and drinks and so on.

- Always also have a note book handy to copy recipes which you and your kids can later transfer to the family’s cookbook

These activities teach children:

(i) Language skills – Understanding, Reading and Writing

Children are exposed to vocabulary – the younger ones learn words. Flash cards are fine but it is nothing like showing them the real thing. Pictures tell a thousand words and it sticks. Example – What is this? This is butter.

Bigger children learn to put together words – make them read recipes and the instructions and at the same time start a recipe book. Allow them to be free with their imagination.

(ii) Help children understand the importance of instructions

Cooking is really about following directions. A step by step method allows children to understand the importance of following instructions and you can show them the implications/dangers/consequence of not following directions.

If you are cooking with more than 1 child – assign them tasks and accountabilities and at the same time encourage them to work together. Cooking is a great opportunity to reinforce. - Concepts like “sharing,” “cooperation,” and “taking turns.” which also prepares them for life.

(iii) Grow the kids confidence
One of the greatest gifts that a parent can give to their children is to instill confidence in them. Cooking is a wonderful tool. There is no need to spend money on courses and seminars and such. Allowing children to start and complete tasks and giving them responsibility builds their self esteem. Cooking is especially wonderful for shy or timid children - the whole cooking process and what goes into is real confidence booster.

Remind yourself of your objectives. Children will make mistakes and a mess, especially the first few times. Allow them – the cooking experience must be positive, fun and relaxed. Help them clean up. Turn everything they do into a learning experience. And if you are too tired to teach them or not in the mood– that’s ok too because your children are having fun WITH YOU. This experience will become memories which they will carry forever.