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!