Food is far more than merely nutritionally fulfilling. It is brimming with imagination, enjoyment and intellectual stimulation too! Inviting your child/children to cook, bake and play with food opens their minds and the benefits can last a lifetime.
Food feels different. Discuss these differences with your preschooler. How does the flesh of a mango feel? Now grab the skin of the pineapple.
As you grab a bunch of grapes, pull up a map and show where they are grown. For even more fun, prepare a plate of foods from all different regions of the globe.
3. Differences and similarities
Teach your child to compare and contrast different types of food. How is an apple different from a tomato? How is it alike? Prepare a baked sweet potato and a baked russet potato – they are both potatoes! How are they different? Ask your child to describe what she likes about both types of food. This will encourage her to think critically about choices.
This is a really fun exercise! Put a blindfold on your child. Prepare a variety of dishes with different odors – lemon juice, meat, apple sauce, cinnamon, etc. Allow your child to smell each dish and guess what it is.
You can also discuss the smells as you are cooking. Describe the sweet smell of the sugar as the cookies are baking. Discuss what other foods would taste delicious with these smells on them. Encourage your child to use his/her imagination!
5. Following Directions
One of the most critical disciplines a child will learn in life is how to follow directions. If your child can read, teach her how to read the entire recipe before starting to bake. Then allow her to prepare for the baking by deciding which pans she needs and which ingredients. Planning, preparing and problem solving are all very important skills that will serve them far later in life.
What other benefits are there to playing with food?