As summer camps are closed this year, you may be wondering what to do with your child to mix things up. Cooking is one of my favorites activities to do with kids. Possibly because I love eating. If your child often cooks with you, or isn’t interested in cooking, there are some ways to change it up to make it more interesting as part of your summer fun.
Waffle iron week!
Challenge your child to make as many things this week with the waffle iron they can dream up. Make sandwiches and heat them up in the waffle iron. Use it for brownie mix, cornbread, or even slice and bake cookies. Be prepared for not everything to work. Just make sure the iron is sprayed well with cooking spray, in hopes your experiment will have an easy release.
I love waffle iron cooking because it is a fairly safe way to let kids cook with heat. Yes, you could still get burned. But not needing to lift a whole pan from a large oven reduces your child’s risk of getting hurt, so they can be more independent. Give them small tongs and show them how it works. Then let them go!
If your iron has heat settings, be sure to point out how those work, or encourage your child to experiment with the settings for their experiments. Remember, you want your child to learn from this cooking experiment. Not every good lesson is good food. Most of us learn far more from our failures.
Waffle irons are also easy to transport and inexpensive. So your child can plan to use their knowledge when they are young adults on their own, too.
Try cooking outside!
Whether it is cooking with a grill or over your fire bowl, cooking outside is much more interesting for kids than cooking on the regular stovetop. While s’mores are almost always a hit, look at camping websites to get ideas for more creative foods to make with fire.
If you are worried about food poisoning, precooked sausages or hot dogs eliminate worries, so your child can just roast it on a stick and put it in a bun. If you are worried about ruining your pots, foil packet cooking is a super simple way to cook in the coals of a fire or with charcoal. Just create a pouch of food and let it cook while you all having a sing-along or play a game.
Have your own cooking competition!
Can you challenge your kids to invent a new recipe? Stock up on options and have your kids each create new fruit salad! Fruit salad is great because you can give your child soft fruit to cut with a butter knife, and it doesn’t require heat. If your child is a bit older, learning to use a knife is an important life skill that also increases hand strength. An amazingly long list of combos can be turned into a “salad” which makes it very child friendly. Cheese cubes tossed with grapes can still be a salad! Experimenting with dressings or dipping sauces is also safe and fun.
Cookie decorating is also an art form that kids can do together. Challenges like icing round cookies to look like emojis may even engage older kids. Slice and bake cookies are a good way to get started with less stress.
This is also a great time to dig to the back of your cabinets and see what creative types of cooking you once did that you can let your child try. Got a fondu pot? Your child is going to love trying this messiest form of cooking and eating! Do you have an ice cream maker? Homemade ice cream is actual heaven on earth! Encourage your child to invent a new flavor this summer!
I hope this gives you some new ideas! Are you cooking with your kids? Tell me what you are making!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.