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Tips for Cooking with Kids + Chocolate Coconut Cookie Recipe

If you prefer to skip the tips & backstory you can quickly download the recipe by clicking here

Our time quarantined (or the word I prefer, planted) at home has sent me down memory lane. When scrolling through Instagram, a lot of activities people are doing remind me of things I loved when I was a little girl. I lived outside most of the time riding my bike & fishing at the pond in our neighborhood, but when I was inside I would be organizing my room (I had themed corners for stuffed animals), giving manicures to friends (I always heated up the lotion), or I'd be in the kitchen cooking and baking. 

I've always had a passion for cooking and some of my favorite memories were made in the kitchen. My little girl is currently 3, but I've been including her in kitchen activities since day one. When she was a newborn I would wear her on my chest while baking. At 6 months I would put her in a little seat on our island and let her grasp utensils and feel different textures from food, and when she was 2 we got a kitchen helper to stand in to help sift and stir. 

These days she too has developed a passion for cooking and loves to help me daily. Since she is learning all about numbers and letters at school so we also utilize our time in the kitchen to create learning opportunities. Below are a few ideas* on how to incorporate learning into cooking:

  • Have them count out measurements when adding to the bowl.
  • Have them count the cookies on the pan - you can also add and remove some to work on basic math skills like adding and subtracting.
  • Search for letters on ingredient packages. 
  • Work on motor skills by having them roll dough into balls, grasp and clench the cookie scoop, and hold utensils properly - all can strengthen and prepare their little hands for handwriting!
  • Talk about the colors, scents and textures of the different ingredients and what's happening when they all come together - watch the sugar dissolve, watch the milk whip, etc. 
  • Let them taste everything as you go as long as it's safe and nothing is raw so their palettes are introduced to new flavors.

If you want to put these tips to the test then this recipe for Healthy-ish Chocolate Coconut Cookies is delish! The dough isn't sticky or messy so it's a great recipe for them to practice rolling the dough into balls. Once they place them on a cookie sheet, they can press each ball of dough down with a fork to make a criss cross design. If you really want to draw out the activity and keep them busy ask them to practice counting the lines on each cookie, which will allow you time to clean up. 

On a final note, I'm always on the hunt for fun, whimsical books to read my kids and two of our favorite cooking related books are Julia, Child and Kalamata's Kitchen. Julia, Child follows the adventures of two best friends on a mission to help grownups learn how to slow down and enjoy life, and Kalamata's Kitchen is a sweet story helping kids discover how fun it is to try new foods and learn how to assign meaning to them. 

What cooking related books does your family enjoy? 

* Please note, I am not a teacher, doctor or certified in anything relating to children. My only knowledge derives from being a child once and raising two. These tips and ideas are solely based on what works for us!

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