We think of cooking as a multifaceted learning experience that provides our preschoolers with a wide variety of experiences. When young children cook, they develop many of the following skills:
Cooking is a very social activity. Children learn to work in small groups and cooperate with one another by taking turns, sharing ingredients and passing utensils. Language flourishes when children talk about different ingredients and changes that occur when ingredients are mixed together, baked, fried etc. When preparing ethnic recipes, new words from other cultures are learned.
When children cook they use critical thinking skills as they sort, analyze, classify and compare ingredients. Children draw upon problem solving skills as they try to solve problems or figure out how to create their own recipes. Emergent literacy skills are developed as they learn to "read" picture recipes and follow a sequence of steps in left to right progression. Math and science experiences are created as children measure ingredients, estimate cooking times, observe changes and predict outcomes.
Cooking is a great way to work on motor skills. As children mold, knead, and stir, they develop both large and small muscles. Eye-hand coordination and muscle control are refined as they cut, pour, measure, roll, crack and peel ingredients.