Cooking is a satisfying experience for children and provides a vehicle for teaching math, science, language, social studies and more, all with a delicious opportunity to enjoy the results of their labor as a shared snack or meal. Children measure, pour, slice, grate, count, add, etc. They develop vocabulary and practice language skills with concepts such as first, second, third, and so on. They grow in their understanding of concepts such as wet and dry, and become familiar with a wide variety of cooking utensils and instruments. Children learn about recipes, ingredients, and in some cases shop for what they will need to make certain dishes.
Cooking activities can also be used to support other areas of the curriculum. When a class is working on the letter “m” they might make meatballs, or muffins, or macaroni to reinforce what students are learning in language arts. When a class is studying birds and learning about what birds eat, they might explore recipes that involve seeds that are edible for humans. Children also enjoy preparing food to share with other classes, for holidays, birthdays, or just to be good neighbors.
Cooking plays an important role in curriculum exploration and celebration of diversity. Children enjoy learning about foods from many different cultures. Holiday celebrations often involve food, and when children can participate in that food preparation, the celebration is all the more special. Parents are often invited to share family traditions through cooking, such as making wontons as part of a Chinese New Year celebration or latkes as part of a Hanukkah celebration.