Cooking with Your Kids

Cooking with Your Kids | Sweet Phenomena

One of the best parts of cooking with your kids is that there are a vast number of teachable moments.

These might be literal moments, such as teaching fractions, history, and geography; or they can be more figurative moments, such as teaching appreciation for family meal time, family history, and different types of food.

In our family, we enjoy learning about local foods. Few things can beat knowing where your food came from, and how long of a trip it took to get to you!

I think it’s important to note something before we talk more about all the fun you can have with your children and local foods: eating local and fresh doesn’t have to be expensive and inaccessible.

We love all kinds of food in our house: the good stuff and the not-so-good-for-you-but-it-tastes-amazing stuff. You don’t need to be a health nut or spend tons of money to eat and appreciate local foods.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, how can you involve your kids in learning about local foods, appreciating the concept of slow food, and really taking something away from the whole experience?

You can do any number of things outlined below, at just about any age, and I bet your children won’t even look at it as work!

Visiting the Farmers’ Market

Visiting the farmers’ market is probably the easiest way to teach your children about local foods. It’s a magical place!

Depending on where you live, there are year-round markets, produce-only markets, markets that carry crafts, markets that also offer dairy, meat, and poultry, the list goes on and on. Find what’s in your area by visiting LocalHarvest.

Aside from the vast learning that can take place by just wandering around the market, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your child is involved and enjoying the experience.

Help your child prepare a market shopping list. This could be a written list if they can read and need to practice writing, or it can be a list with pictures that you create on the computer, with magazine clippings, or by drawing. This gives them specific things to look for.

Don’t want to call it a shopping list? Call it a Farmers’ Market Treasure Hunt. Let them dress the part. Have fun with it!

Older children can help plan a menu using items that can be purchased at the market.

Seeing how much of an entire menu you can actually get at the market is so much fun! There’s just something special about making an entire meal from items you purchased fresh, that day.

Your resources may vary, though, so perhaps you only have access to produce. There’s nothing wrong with that, you can still make it work.

Prepare an entree, such as Beef Ravioli Pizza Cups with Tomato Basil Salsa (these look like cupcakes-how fun is that to eat for dinner?!), and use fresh tomatoes and basil from the market for your salsa.

Prepare a side salad to accompany your dish, and then make a fresh fruit cobbler or ice cream sundae for dessert. I think most kids would love a meal like this!

Allowing your child to pay for items that are on their list can help them feel independent and encourage math skills.

Teach seasons and what’s available by utilizing this site to find out what’s available and when in your area.

Practice interacting with others by getting to know the vendors and farmers at the market. These folks are generally exceptionally friendly and love talking to little people about farming, produce, and all sorts of other things. Plus, they often enjoy giving little goodies to cute kids as well.

Have a child that’s not a fan of vegetables? Visiting a market just might be the magic pill you’ve been looking for.

It’s also important to note that your market visits don’t always have to focus on produce.

Many markets have vendors who sell baked goods, handmade crafts, meat and poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Most of us love baked goods, and things like fresh milk and eggs can be used to create your own baked goods.

Other Resources

Many products are available that can enhance your market experience, such as books, checklists, reusable bags, and more.

My favorites are this kit, which includes a booklet, activity cards, and a reusable shopping bag that is stored in a little strawberry pouch, and this beauty from Native Bear on Etsy, which includes a cute reusable shopping bag and a colorful icon-based shopping list.

At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands is a great book to keep on hand to help instill a love for local and fresh foods and farmers’ market in your children.

It profiles produce that is found at most farmers’ markets, gives tips on choosing the most ripe produce and other fun tidbits, provides kid-friendly recipes designed to utilize your market goodies. Divided by season, it’s also a great way to teach your children about eating seasonally.

And then there’s this beauty: The Little Chefs Project: A Collection of Kid-Friendly Tips, Tricks and Recipes for Fun in the Kitchen.

I helped write the chapter on teachable moments and let me tell you, there is a ton more great info in there.  Be sure to check it out!

You can find even more great ideas for creating magical market visits with your kids by visiting these sites:

While these blog posts aren’t necessarily focused on market visits with your children, they do provide some great content on being in the kitchen with your kids, as well as a couple of really great measurement printables:

True Confessions:  I am being compensated for my participation in the Little Chefs project.  But, you guys know how much I love to talk about having your kids in the kitchen!

Teaching Girly Monthly Maintenance #KotexMom

Teaching Girly Monthly Maintenance | Sweet Phenomena

We’ve been talking about helping your daughters come to terms with their periods for the past few months.

We’ve covered those really tough topics, like having “the” talk.

We’ve talked about how U by Kotex Tween is helping moms {and dads} everywhere give their daughters a better first period experience than what they had.

Now we’re easing into something a little simpler: monthly maintenance.  It’s simply not enough to prepare your daughter for starting her first period and leave it at that.

She’ll still have questions, even after she’s started.  There are still several important things she needs to know.

Below you’ll find a few tips on what to talk about in regard to this subject.

Teaching Monthly Maintenance

  • Hygiene is important.  It’s really important to impress upon your daughter the importance of changing her pad on a regular basis.  This is the best way to avoid accidents.  It’s also a good idea to teach her how to properly dispose of used products.  You don’t want any clogs occurring. I’m just sayin’.
  • Deal with accidents.  Sometimes accidents occur.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  But you prepared your daughter, remember? Remind her to use her emergency stash of supplies and clothing and she’ll be good to go!
  • Knowledge is power.  A huge part of being prepared is to know what’s going on.  Teach your daughter how to track her cycle on a calendar so she knows when to expect her next period.  Then it’s not a huge surprise that catches her off guard.
  • Build confidence.  I added this as part of monthly maintenance because a} it’s just a great thing to do for your daughter and b} it’s hard being a girl who has just started your period.  You remember what it’s like: you think everyone knows you’re on your period and it’s embarrassing.  Help your daughter realize that this simply isn’t true and what she’s going through is a natural part of life.
  • Make it fun.  Having a period isn’t fun.  It’s a fact of life, though.  Make this time easier to deal with by providing fun products {like the U by Kotex Tween ones}, neat little containers for her emergency kit, and more!
  • Know the warning signs.  In addition to tracking her period on her calendar, your daughter can identify the “warning signs” of an imminent period.  Help your daughter understand why these things are occurring and what they mean.  Get even more great tips here.

Win Awesome Supplies

Want to score some awesome U by Kotex Tween pads and liners for your daughter?

Trust me, you do.  They’re awesome.

Head to this site and you can be one of 50 moms that wins this great prize!

True Confessions:  I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Baking with Your Kids: Tips for Entertaining

Baking with Your Kids: Tips for Entertaining | Sweet Phenomena

Part of the fun of baking is sharing it with others!

While this doesn’t have to be a formal occasion at all, it’s still a great idea to teach your kids how to properly entertain guests.

Below you will find some great resources to help you do just that!

Training Good Little Hosts and Hostesses

What Works for You

Books and guides are helpful, but also remember to incorporate your family’s style and values.

Like formal affairs? Teach your children about them.

Like informal picnics? Teach your children about them.

Impart all that great knowledge you already have to your kids!

True Confessions:  This post does contain some affiliate links.

Baking with Your Kids: Honoring and Starting Family Traditions

Baking with Your Kids: Honoring and Starting Family Traditions | Sweet Phenomena

Baking with your kids is one of those things that they’ll remember for the rest of their life.

Trips to fairs, new gaming systems, vacations, sure they’ll remember bits of pieces of this stuff, but being in the kitchen? You can’t beat those memories.

We’ve talked about all sorts of things to do with your kids in the kitchen the past few days, but today is devoted to the most important: remembering to honor and start family traditions.

Honoring Family Traditions

This is such an important thing to do with your kids.

No matter how small the tradition may seem, it’s important to teach your children to honor family traditions in the kitchen.

Sunday dinners, fish on Fridays, seasonal baking, all of it is important.

But you don’t have to stop at just telling them what the traditions are and being in the kitchen with them.

Make it uber-fun by taking pictures, making scrapbooks, adding a new twist on the tradition, and more.

Compiling a cookbook, complete with pictures of you and your kids making the recipes is my favorite idea.

How many times do you want to make a family recipe but it’s not documented anywhere, so you have to try until you nail it.

Document these recipes with your kids, share the stories behind them, and have a keepsake to pass down from generation to generation.

Start New Family Traditions

I’m all for keeping great traditions alive, but it’s also fun to start new ones.

How awesome would it be for your kids to have something that they helped create to pass down to their kids?

You can create new recipes, new techniques, special baking times, anything you want.

The important thing to remember is that traditions don’t have to be something grand, they just have to be something important to you.  Something that tells a story.

What traditions do you and your kids celebrate?

Baking with Your Kids: Math in the Kitchen

Baking with Your Kids: Math in the Kitchen | Sweet Phenomena

Teaching math in the kitchen is one of the most obvious things to do with your kids, which is why I didn’t start with it.  But today, we’re talking about exciting and fun ways to incorporate math in your baking escapades!

Teaching Math in the Kitchen

  • Measuring - Have your kids help you measure out ingredients.  Depending on their age, you can teach them the various cup sizes, conversions, and addition of fractions.  The latter is my favorite.  It really helps make it real for them.
  • Stirring - Need to teach counting? Tell your child they need to stir something for 50 strokes {or whatever other number you’d like to use}, and they really feel purposeful in their stirring!
  • Ingredients - Count the number of ingredients in a recipe.  Count the number of chocolate chips in your cookie dough.  Count the number of eggs.  You get the picture.
  • Temperature - Use oven temperature {or candy temperature if doing candy} to teach about Celsius and Fahrenheit, conversions, and more.

Books for Teaching Math in the Kitchen

Our Favorite Way to do Math in the Kitchen

Menu math!  I introduced this a couple of years ago and Babydoll LOVED it.

There are worksheets and books you can buy, and I believe that’s how we started, but you can easily create your own.  Here’s a Google image search to get you going.

Basically, you get to play restaurant.  And your kid gets to be the waiter/owner/everything.

You get the menu, place your order, and they get to work preparing your food and your bill.

Have play food and kitchen equipment?  That makes it even more epic.

Even More Tips

I was fortunate to be able to contribute to the Teachable Moments chapter of The Little Chefs Project with Chef Boyardee.  Be sure to check it out for TONS of great ideas on teaching your kids in the kitchen!