Kitchen Tasks and Chores for Young Children Ages 3 to 5 Years Old

I have fond memories of being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother.  They weren’t persnickety about having a child make a mess out of putting muffin batter in the muffin tins.  I cooked and baked with them from a young age and spent many hours in the kitchen as a teenager concocting many desserts from my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook.  I was welcomed into the kitchen and learned how to do many things from a young age just because they thought I could and allowed me to!  Too many times, we assume our children aren’t old enough!  Welcome your children into the kitchen.  It’s a great teaching tool with lots of fun things to make and create!

I’ll start off this Kitchen Tasks and Chores Series with ages 3 to 5.  I have two more segments, ages 6 to 8 and ages 9 to 11.

There are so many kitchen tasks and chores that a young children ages 3 to 5 can do!   Here are some of my favorite tips and some of my girl’s favorite things to do in the kitchen.  One note:  young boys also like to help mom in the kitchen.  My boys love to stir, mix, dump, roll.  If you have young boys, they can also be involved in helping you cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen!

  • They absolutely love to sit and watch me cook or bake.  Many times they pull up a stool, watch and ask a ton of questions!
  • They love for me to fill them a soapy warm water sink and put dishes in it for them to “wash”.
  • Teach them how to crack an egg.  We’ve had some really good, funny times teaching our 3 to 5 year olds how to crack and egg!
  • Little ones love to pour and stir! In many of the things we are baking, they pour and stir most of the ingredients.  If I am making a more complicate meal or baking something that needs specific attention, many times I make the girls a little bowl of their own with water and flour and let them mix up their own dough!  This gives me the ability to focus on my tasks but includes them into the kitchen work as well.
  • It’s very important to remember to talk and explain while you are cooking or baking.  Talking over their heads about cups, teaspoons, half and whole, liquid and dry, sweet and sour is not too advanced for their little minds.
  • At 3 to 5 years old they can start really contributing to the cooking and baking process.  Have them mash the bananas for the banana bread!  Teach them how to grease the pans.  Show them how to put muffin papers into the muffin tins.
  • At 3 to 5 years old, our children have learned how to unload the dishwasher.  Because I have placed all my child plates, cups and bowls on a low shelf, they are able to put these items away.  They can set the other dishes up on the counter for a bigger person to put away.
  • They love to retrieve things from the pantry!  If you will involve them in putting things away in the pantry, they will learn where a lot of things are located.  Ask them to retrieve relatively easy items to get, handle and remember.
  • Have them help put away groceries after your grocery store trips.
  • 3 to 5 year olds love to open packages for you!  Have them open the tea bags, frozen vegetable bags and pasta bags.  Teach them how to use clips, twisty ties and zip lock baggies.
  • You can also teach a 3 to 5 year old how to put soap into the dishwasher.
  • They can learn how to hold a broom and how to start learning how to sweep.  Sweeping develops coordination, focus and awareness of things around them.
  • Wipe down lower cabinets and appliances.  It isn’t necessary to use harsh cleaners when cleaning your cabinets and appliances.  You can use sponges or cloths with a bit of warm soapy water or a vinegar wash solution to give to your children for cleaning chores.
  • Little girls love to shuck corn and shell peas.  They are also very helpful in the garden picking beans, squash or tomatoes and other garden vegetables.
  • With my help and supervision, I start letting the girls handle a knife and operate a hand held non-electric can opener.  They like to cut up boiled eggs, cut huge olives, cut green peppers and mushrooms.

These are things that young children enjoy doing and enjoy learning about.  I have found that introducing things to young children can be a very exciting time for them.  They are learning how to be big and they embrace the task or chore with enthusiasm when you offer them encouragement!

Think about other kitchen tasks and chores your young children like to do or could possibly do.  Give it a try and see how they do!

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  1. Carmen says:

    Thanks for the wisdom! Busy kiddos are happy kiddos! I’m curious, do you have any chores for the boys in the kitchen? We have 9 hens and that’s our oldest boy’s responsibility (he’s 10) but I also have him switch off each week with our oldest daughter (9) with chores like clearing the table, sweeping, putting dishes away, etc. (The middle two (5 and 7) take turns each week helping, too.) When we move we hope to get more land and have dairy goats and perhaps a “farm/freezer” pig (you’ve inspired us!). They will definitely be busier then. Our 5 year old boy has told us that he wants to buy a goat of his own when we move so I know the boys won’t have as much time for the kitchen. Our 10 year old has asked if he could learn to cook. While I’m sure his future wife would be thankful for his help I’m not sure how much I should delve into cooking with him. Just curious what tasks your boys have learned or will learn. Thanks so much for the information and inspiration!

    Hugs,
    Carmen

  2. BethTN says:

    Kitchen chores for the boys—yes–our boys do meal time clean up chores. We have a rotating chore schedule that involves all the children ages 5 and up in regular, daily chores for meal time. The younger ones focus on clearing the table, wiping the table, sweeping and general pick up. The older 3 children rotate doing the dishes (ages 12, 10, 8) —They work 2 at a time. The extra one who has the week off helps the younger ones with their chores. The older ones keep their dishes chores for one week— I don’t know if that makes sense??

    Our boys know how to wash dishes and general how to’s in the kitchen. They can cook pancakes (10 yr boys and up), grilled cheese and some other more basic cooking things. The younger boys do like to help occasionally with making cookies or flipping pancakes or making muffins or cupcakes.

    The 8 year old sister is much more knowledgeable about how to cook and is more proficient in the kitchen…however the older boys just know basics. More importantly, though the woman is queen in the kitchen, our boys need to be aware of the messes they make and learn how to clean up after themselves and not be slothful—(room, bathroom, etc.) so I am all for chores.

    Were we to have a house full of older girls, I wouldn’t rely on the boys for kitchen chores—they would know how to do them if necessary—but not as a regular job. We have enough other jobs that require their boy strength and energy.

  3. BethTN says:

    That is the thing with a farm…. the boys are really needed to do a lot of the outside work—dealing with the animals, fences, chopping wood, hauling hay and dirt, breaking ice on cold winter mornings, taking out food scraps to the animals, building chicken brooders and keeping the chicks alive etc.—really the tasks are endless. My husband is teaching my 10 year old son how to milk. Currently, they are doing the milking because….well, I’m pregnant and it is very cold outside—and it is very good exercise for them….They bring the milk into my 8 year old daughter and she finishes it out.

    Raising the pig was so good for the boys…..

  4. [...] broken up the series by age group and plan to post the series this week.  The first series is Kitchen Chores and Tasks for Young Girls 3 to 5 years old, The second is Kitchen Chores and Tasks for Young Girls 6 to 8 years old and the last is Kitchen [...]

  5. Holly says:

    What a great post! Our kids are given a lot of responsibility early on and I usually cringe when I read these kinds of articles because the expectations are so low, but your ideas are great! I have been enjoying your blog so much–keep up the great posts!! One caution I would have is to remind everyone that dishwashing detergent is highly caustic! Make sure they are supervised and wash hands right after :)
     

  6. BethTN says:

    Thanks for the reminder….

    Speaking of dishwashing detergent!  Since I am 9 weeks pregnant, the fumes from the regular dishwashing detergent we are using in the dishwasher are enough to send me over the edge heaving and gagging again.  It can’t be good for us!  I’m going to look into a more “green” alternative.  Does anyone know if Costco carries their brand of “environmentally friendly/natural” dishwashing detergent? 

    The normal costco brand is the one we have now which makes me gag when i open the clean dishwasher or walk in the kitchen when it’s running. 

  7. [...] is part 3 of the series, Kitchen Tasks and Chores for Children.  The first article was for children ages 3 to 5, the second article was about children ages 6 to 8 and this one, I will be again, focusing in on [...]

  8. Holly says:

    We don’t have a Costco anywhere near us, so I don’t know. We use 7th Generation.  I have asthma and immediately noticed that I didn’t avoid being in the kitchen while the dishwasher was running once we switched.  And for whatever reason our dishwasher does WAY better with the powder than the liquid.  Hope you find something…anything to avoid unnecessary gagging ;)   Congratulations, by the way! Good news!!!

  9. [...] the habit of supplying our pantry with the needed supplies to be able to make our own sauces.  My little girls love to mix and stir ingredients together and they make fine taste testers.  My 4 year old is always ready with her opinions on what we [...]

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