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Cooking Up Things To Do

This summer is FLYING by. I can't believe our kids are back to school next month. Secretly, I am already excited about ski season and am an addict for autumn so while I will miss the bright warmth of summer...there are good things ahead!

We have had a really nice, rainy July here in Summit County. Afternoon storms have left our mountains green and the wildflowers are amazing this year. Rainy afternoons can mean more indoor time for the kiddos, which is usually where we start to see a bit more loafing around and sighs of boredom. (On a side note: I don't think I've ever heard our kids say "I'm bored" when outside...). If you are looking for a fun indoor activity with your kids, how about getting them in the kitchen with you?

If you are short on time, then maybe this isn't your best activity. If you have some time to spare, cooking and baking with your kids can be a really awesome experience.

This is Ellie, at around 2 years old, helping me make ninja-bread men.

Did everything always come out perfect? Nope. We don't use the "P" word, remember? Did we have fun? Yep. Was it messy, of course. As someone who really likes a neat kitchen, cooking with my kids gives me a chance to relax my standards a bit and let the flour fly. Cookies, breads, entrees, name it, we've done it.

So, are you faced with an excess of zucchini? Have friends coming over and need a dessert? Or just looking for a way to pass a rainy afternoon? Picking out a recipe, finding/shopping for ingredients, and putting together their creation can give you a whole day full of activity! Want a simple salt dough recipe that you can all make together? Scroll on ahead!

Ages 0-1 - My kids were in the kitchen with me from the time I could leave them in their bouncer. Just talking with them about the food, letting them feel and taste things (as appropriate for their age), and letting them watch me cook, sometimes from my hip, was a great intro to kitchen time.

Ages 1-2 - Once they are steady on their feet, they might enjoy getting more into the action. Our girls loved wearing aprons, rolling up their sleeves, and playing with leftover pieces of dough! Or picking out cookie cutters for the sugar cookies. Maybe even sneaking a chocolate chip here and there. A sturdy "tower" makes helping a whole lot safer than the chair we used to use. We were lucky enough to find a second-hand Learning Tower and we still have it to this day. Never leave your child unattended in the kitchen - there are lots of opportunities for burns, cuts, and accidental ingestion of something they shouldn't be eating...

Ages 3-4 - Now we can mix! As kids become more coordinated, they can help put things in bowls and stir. Steady handed kiddos may be able to hold the measuring spoon while you pour spices and will become more interested in "doing" as much as you will let them. Make sure to start talking about being safe in the kitchen when it comes to hot burners, steam, and such.

Ages 5-6 - We introduced cutting with a knife at 5 with our girls - but you can likely tell if your kiddo is ready for a sharp implement :) This knife and finger guard from Opinel is a great start to getting your kids used to chopping. Reagan is about to turn 6 and uses this to cut veggies and make her own salad.

Ages 7-8 - Lots of independence. If your kids can read a recipe, they might be able to MAKE the recipe with very little help. Always make sure you are assisting when there is an oven involved, teaching them how to turn burners on and off, using pot holders, and just reinforcing kitchen safety.

Ages 9+ - Enjoy cooking side by side with your pre-teen. Crazy, right?

Here is a simple Salt Dough recipe that you can make with your kids. The dough can be treated like play dough for easy, non-toxic play:

Salt Dough

2c Flour

1c Salt

1c Water

Mix together flour and salt in a bowl. Gradually add water until it reaches a play dough like consistency. Will vary based on how dry it is where you are, so go by feel on this one. Want to add some natural color? Check out these ways to bring some brightness into your dough:

Ellie recently whipped us up one of the most delicious batch of brownies I've had in a long time while Reagan peeled, chopped, and assembled a salad. I've become the head dishwasher and assistant chef when we are all in the kitchen together, and it makes me happier than you know!

Stay Wild and Free!


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