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eGCI Team

Q&A -- Cooking With Kids

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Varmint   

Thanks for your great session. One issue I have when I cook with my children is how I manage to keep all 4 L'il Varmints simultaneously engaged during the process. They all want to do everything, but that's not possible. Any experience with tasking many children of different ages and skills?

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afoodnut   
Thanks for your great session.  One issue I have when I cook with my children is how I manage to keep all 4 L'il Varmints simultaneously engaged during the process.  They all want to do everything, but that's not possible.  Any experience with tasking many children of different ages and skills?

Glad you liked it.

I've often worked with multi-age/multi skill groups, frequently in a school setting. I've found organization and task "assignment" to be the key.

How old are each of the 4 L'il Varmints? I'll walk through the cookie recipe as I would do it with a group of their ages and skills.

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Varmint   
How old are each of the 4 L'il Varmints?  I'll walk through the cookie recipe as I would do it with a group of their ages and skills.

9, 8, 4, and 3. Part of the issue is maintaining my own sanity and sense of order while they run amock!

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afoodnut   
How old are each of the 4 L'il Varmints?  I'll walk through the cookie recipe as I would do it with a group of their ages and skills.

9, 8, 4, and 3. Part of the issue is maintaining my own sanity and sense of order while they run amock!

That's it exactly. Chaos in the kitchen doesn't work, and it's dangerous.

It's a bit easier in the school setting, because they know it's a "class" and they're supposed to listen. When you're starting a cooking project with your four, try approaching it in that more formal way.

Baking chocolate chip cookies with 4 L'il Varmints, ages 9, 8, 4, and 3 (from the recipe in the eGCI)

(Note: with 4 kids baking cookies, If I could I would have 4 cookie sheets available. Take the eggs and butter out of the refrigerator so they'll be at room temperature when you need them. I'm also assuming you're using a stand mixer; make any adjustments you need if you're using a hand held mixer.)

First, print out or write the recipe.

Before starting, go over "rules for baking cookies." We wash our hands before we touch food; we get everything we need before we start; we don't turn on the mixer without permission; we don't touch the mixer with wet hands, we don't put our hand in the mixer while it's on. If anyone is wearing long sleeves, roll their sleeves up or change to short sleeves, and long hair should be tied back or clipped up. Everone should be wearing shoes.

Ask the 9 and 8 year olds to read the recipe out loud to everyone, taking turns reading, i.e. have the 9 year old to read the equipment list, then have the 8 year old read the ingredients list, etc. (Of course, make any adjustments as you need for reading ability.) You should then review the recipe, and describe step be step what you will be doing. Discuss the recipe with them; ask all four of them to talk about the recipe and what you will be doing. Tell them they will each have tasks to do, and tell them what each will be responsible for (as described below).

Turn the oven on to 375º

Ask the 8 or 9 year old to read the equipment list out loud. Assign jobs; i.e. the 3 year old should get the mixing bowl, the 4 year old the wooden spoon and rubber spatula, etc. Have the 8 or 9 year old check off all the equipment on the list.

Ask the 8 or 9 year old to read the ingredient list. Assign jobs for getting ingredients, and checking off the list.

Remind everyone to wash their hands.

Ask the 3 & 4 year olds to grease the cookie sheets. (The 8 & 9 year olds can demonstrate how to do it, and finish the job if needed.)

Have the 8 year old measure the white sugar.

Let the 3 year old pour it into the bowl of the mixer. (If you use a 1/4 cup measure three times, you can have a fractions math lesson, as well as more for everyone to do.)

Have the 9 year old measure the brown sugar. (If the 9 year old already knows how to measure brown sugar with packing it down, let the 9 year old show and tell the others how to do it. If you need to, demonstrate how to do it.)

Have the 4 year old add the sugar to the bowl of the mixer.

Either the 8 or 9 year old can measure the butter, and the 3 or 4 year old add it to the mixer bowl.

Have the 8 year old measure the flour.

Have the 3 year old add it to a mixing bowl.

Have the 9 year old measure the baking soda and salt and add it to the mixing bowl.

Have the 4 year old stir with a wooden spoon.

Ask the 8 and 9 year olds to each crack an egg into a small bowl (so any pieces of shell can be removed before actually adding it to the butter/sugar mixture).

Have the 8 year old measure the vanilla and add it to the eggs.

Ask the 8 year old to measure the chocolate chips, then have the 3 year old pour them into a bowl.

Put the bowl with the butter and sugar on the mixer stand. Have the 4 year old turn the mixer on. (If the mixer speed settings are tricky, you or one of the older kids will have to do this step.)

Cream the butter and sugar. Stop the mixer, then have the 3 year old scrape the sides with a rubber spatula. Have the 8 or 9 year old finish the job.

Have the 4 year old add the eggs and vanilla. Have the 9 year old turn the mixer on, and mix at medium speed. Stop the mixer. Have the 4 year old scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and the 8 year old finish the job. Either the 8 or 9 year old can finish mixing until the mixture is smooth and well blended.

With the mixer off, ask the 3 year old to add 2-3 spoonfuls of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/eggs. Mix at slow speed; then the 4 year old can add a few spoonfuls, etc.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. The 3 year old can add the chocolate chips. The 4 year old can stir with a wooden spoon. The 8 year old can finish incorporating the chips.

Give each of the kids a cookie sheet, and have them use a teaspoon to put the cookies on the cookie sheet. (Demonstrate the size and spacing for the cookies.) The 8 and 9 year olds will do a reasonable job with it. You or the older kids will finish up the job for the younger kids. (Could also have the younger kids make just a few bigger, misshapen cookies.)

Have the 9 year old open the oven, reminding him to stand off to the side to do it. Put however many cookie sheets as fit into the oven. Show them how to set the timer, and have the 8 or 9 year old do it.

While you're waiting for the cookies, organize your cleanup!

When the cookies are done, open the oven and remove the cookies. Remind the kids that you're using a dry (never damp or wet) potholder to do it. Put more cookies in the oven, have the 8 or 9 year old set the timer.

When the cookies are slightly cooled, so the cookie sheets won't burn, all of the kids can remove the cookies from the sheets, (the 3 and 4 year olds may or may not be able to do it) and put them on a brown paper bag or rack to cool. If you use parchment, removal is foolproof, but you miss the early step of needing to grease the cookie sheets.

When cookies are cool enough, you all do a taste test.


Edited by afoodnut (log)

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debbie   

Thank you so so so much! I was horrified when my ten year old son was reduced to tears upon being asked to cut up a tomato for our salad. Starting over with my two year old grandson, and a stack of newspaper. He loves to wash his hands and scrub the carrots and potatoes. Unwrapping a stick of butter is a total adventure. He LOVES to make things happen. Where better than in my kitchen?

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afoodnut   
Thank you so so so much!  I was horrified when my ten year old son was reduced to tears upon being asked to cut up a tomato for our salad.  Starting over with my two year old grandson, and a stack of newspaper.  He loves to wash his hands and scrub the carrots and potatoes.  Unwrapping a stick of butter is a total adventure.  He LOVES to make things happen.  Where better than in my kitchen?

I'm delighted you enjoyed this. Cooking with my daughter over the years has been a grand and gratifying adventure.

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Msk   

I enjoyed your lesson thoroughly and its full of great ideas.

I may try doing some cooking the next time I babysit my niece (as I currently do not have any children).

Msk

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afoodnut   
I enjoyed your lesson thoroughly and its full of great ideas. 

I may try doing some cooking the next time I babysit my niece (as I currently do not have any children).

Msk

I'm so pleased you enjoyed it:biggrin:

And I'll bet your reputation as favorite babysitter will be absolute if you try.

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