Purposeful Learning through Cooking

Hello Families-

Last week we spent two days cooking with the children.  Noah made banana chocolate chip muffins with the children on Wednesday and on Friday the children made their own little pizzas.  All of the children loved the muffins (even without the forgotten cup of sugar!)  I have added the recipe below for you and your child to bake at home!

cooking muffins

To children, the world of cooking is magical.  We combine all kinds of ingredients, then stir, simmer, boil, or bake, and magically  – — something delicious is created!  Being asked to help with cooking makes kids feel grown up and important.  When they cooperate with others to make a dish, they take great satisfaction in producing something for everyone to eat.

Reading, science and math concepts appear in all cooking experiences.  Children learn to recognize numbers and words from recipes.  They begin to use vocabulary related to cooking.  They observe how ingredients change when they are mixed together.

little pizzas

Kids learn basic math concepts such as counting, measurement, and part-whole relationships.  It will take years before young children fully understand concepts like numbers, weights, measurement, time, and temperature, but repeated experiences with cooking promote the development of these concepts.

Cooking is a hands-on activity that can help children learn many different skills. The list below outlines some skills children can learn as they follow instructions for various recipes.

  • Language skills – When cooking, children must understand certain vocabulary. They need to know vocabulary for cooking tools like oven, mixer, and whisk. Flavors—salty, sweet, bitter, etc.—and textures—sticky, gooey, melted, etc. are also important to know. As well, children can learn figurative language related to cooking terms such as “a baker’s dozen,” “a piece of cake,” and “in a nutshell.”
  • Critical-thinking skills – Recipes provide opportunities for children to practice skills like following directions, sequencing, and recalling details.
  • Fine-motor skills – When cooking, children manipulate (move with their hands) different ingredients and cooking tools. Getting supplies out of the pantry, mixing ingredients, and placing toppings are examples of fine-motor skills to practice in the kitchen.
  • Healthy-living skills – Cooking healthy foods is important for your children’s growth and development. As you cook together, you can teach your children about the Food Groups, good nutrition, and the importance of physical activity combined with a healthy diet.

Cooking with young children does take more time than cooking alone.  However, the learning that accompanies cooking and the closeness fostered by the shared experiences are worth the extra time!! A few years ago,  I had a former kindergarten student of mine who is now in college, come back to Baker to visit. In our conversation he told me one of his favorite memories from kindergarten was making little pizzas together!

Basic Banana Muffins Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.

YIELD:12 servings


  •                 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •                 1 cup sugar
  •                 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •                 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •                 3 medium ripe bananas
  •                 1 large egg
  •                 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  •                 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.         In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl,
mash the bananas. Add egg, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir into
the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or
paper-lined muffin cups half full.

2.         Bake at 375° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.