Food Play and Cooking – Child

Cooking with ChildrenMaking food together can be fun. It builds special bonds between children and their families. These often become memories treasured for life.

Did you know?

Children are learning maths and science concepts while cooking. They are learning about measurements, size and order. They learn how things change when mixed together and when heated or chilled. They are experimenting and testing!

Add language

Making food together is chance to have a conversation. Make comments e.g. “Let’s check the recipe”, “that smells delicious”, “Uh oh I’ve made a mess”. Ask occasional questions that require more thinking and reasoning skills e.g. “What should we do first?” “What will happen if…” “What else could we use?”

Other development

Using a recipe lets you show that reading has a useful purpose. Your child will learn you have to read carefully and follow the order given in the instructions. This is important for more formal learning later. In school children have to follow set instructions.

Children develop independence, social and emotional skills through doing things for themselves. Giving your child some responsibility when you are cooking promotes feelings of pride and self-esteem. As children get older they may take on more responsibility. They may enjoy setting the table, serving food and helping to clean up. This is more likely to happen if it is encouraged playfully!

Involving your child in planning and preparing meals can be a good way to encourage healthy eating habits.

Being involved in the planning, cooking, and cleaning process helps your child learn the basic order or steps in preparing food. These are important life skills.


Cooking is the perfect time for helping your child learn about safety in the kitchen – being extra careful with hot things and sharp utensils. Supervision in the kitchen is essential.

Activities listed under “child” are suitable for children 3 years and older. Children of this age enjoy more complex activities where they can develop their skills and use their imagination while playing with friends.