Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Teaching Creatively Blog Hop- Schooling in the Kitchen

How the Kitchen has become a learning tool in our lives.

Welcome to the second day of the Teaching Creatively Blog Hop. While I didn't have anything to post about for yesterday’s topic, Delight-Directed Teaching, I invite you to check out the other blogs who have so much to share on this topic.

When I saw the Schooling in the Kitchen was one of the topics in this blog hop I was so excited. I am very passionate about the learning that can happen in the kitchen. I started while my girls were toddlers and so can you. There is just so much to learn and I have found it to happen in three distinct ways:
  • Learning through meals related to a topic
  • Hands on learning of math, reading and science
  • Home economic skills including cooking and cleaning

I remember the first time I ever gave Tabitha a meal to help her learn. Out of the blue I decided to give her a lunch that contained foods that all started with the letter P. This was even before I started “schooling” her intentionally. As she got a little bit older I would intentionally give her lunches that revolved around letters or numbers or shapes.  I was then introduced to Muffin Tin Meals. When I was able to obtain some cute round muffin tins I started participating in Muffin Tin Monday.  These meals are always a hit with the children. I tend to want to have a theme for the muffin tin to revolve around, which means they usually are focused on our letter of the week, a shape (or shapes), numbers or holidays. The lady who hosts the Muffin Tin Monday linky party also provides themes for each week.   However, you do not have to have a theme to create a muffin tin for your child. Children enjoy receiving their food in special ways. Muffin Tins provide a way to present the food in small child size portions without the concern of the foods touching each other. I’ve read how other parents have found that their children will more readily try new foods when served in a muffin tin. My children still balk at new foods, but maybe it is because they are so used to the muffin tins now. They love getting them, know they will always have one on Monday, but it is now a routine. In fact, I have now started surprising them with muffin tins on different days of the week if I need a special meal to go with our lessons. At other times they are able to help put them together. 

Here are a few of my favorite muffin tins from the past:

I do try to make my muffin tin meals balanced and we even discuss what foods are from what food group as we discuss what each food represents.  

If you would like to find out more about muffin tins I invite you to stop by Muffin Tin Mom’s website as she has quite an extensive FAQ section, though she is no longer hosting Muffin Tin Monday.

If you would like to start participating in Muffin Tin Monday, you could head over to Another Lunch and  you can also check out the current themes and information.

We have also used meals to enhance our learning when we were using the Five in a Row curriculum last year. Though Five in a Row didn't work for us at the time, I did enjoy incorporating meals related to the different books we read. For example, when we read Papa Piccolo we made Ricotta Cake. When we read Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car we made trifle. And when we read the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World we made a meal/dish for almost every country the baker traveled too. Five in a Row has a cookbook that includes a recipe for each book in Volumes 1-4.

Having the girls help out with the meals has led to my weekly linky, Kids and a Mom in the Kitchen. Not only do the children learn important home economic skills, I have been able to connect math and reading with our time in the kitchen.
What are some skills we have learned? Here are some of them:
  • Counting
  • Subtraction
  • Addition
  • Fractions
  • Measurement
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading

Once again, this started inadvertently. Tabitha wanted to help reconstitute a container of frozen orange juice one day when she was a toddler. Since then the girls have helped make many, many, many pitchers of juice. I use this as an opportunity to count the needed cans of water.  Subtraction comes into play when I ask the girls how many more cans are needed after each addition. I also taught the girls vocabulary words such as reconstitute and concentrate.  Additionally they are learning how to pour and stir.
As the girls got older I started planning a specific day in the kitchen for them to help make a special treat or part of the meal. Usually it ends up being a dessert though.  Tabitha (and now Amelia) will read the recipe off of the recipe card and I will gather the ingredients and utensils. At one point I was having Tabitha read the ingredient (plus the needed amount) off the list and then Amelia would read the same word off of flashcards I made her. 

The girls have learned how to pour, scoop, level, stir, mix and even fold. We have discussed equivalent measures by pouring 2- ½ cup measures into 1- 1 cup measure, doing the same with ¼ cup measures as well. Not only have they seen the relationship between different volumes of measuring cups, but we have learned how many teaspoons make a tablespoon and how many tablespoons make a ¼ cup, things I would love them to know automatically. It is one thing to learn these out of a text book. It is quite another to learn them hands on. It seems to me that the schools wait way too long to start teaching home economics (in fact I never did have such a class and you could tell once I was married and had no idea what I was doing). I learned in the Montessori that young children are capable of so much more than they are ever usually given the opportunity to attempt.

In fact, I know that the girls are learning. They have now made a cake (using a cake mix) independently, not once, but twice. The first time they did every single step, except for turning on the oven and taking the cake out of the oven. I posted about my no-longer-wittle-girls here.

I was so proud that what I have been teaching them seems to be sinking in quite well.

Here is the finished cake:

As we move forward I am thinking of having each child have one day a week where they get to help with dinner We will see how that works. I'm sure they would love a chance to use Tabitha's Baker's Hat and Apron.

Do your children learn in the kitchen?
This post is a part of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Blog Hop: Schooling in the Kitchen.
I invite you to stop by and visit the blogs linked up below to see how other families are schooling in the kitchen.


  1. Wow, those are so many great ideas!! I'm going to borrow some of them! :)

  2. I have to admit that when you started talking about muffin tin meals, I thought you meant you cooked a specific type of meal into a muffin. LOL Glad you had pictures posted for me. It looks like such fun.

    Cooking is one of the most fun ways of schooling in my opinion. You can incorporate so many different subject areas.

    I follow a blog dedicated to teaching kids and parents about healthy eating. She usually has fun hands-on activities posted. The link is --http://nutritionforhealthykids.blogspot.com/



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