Getting your child involved in dinner preparation can be a fun way for your child to learn at home. From washing, to cutting, to cooking and plating and lastly, setting the table.
There are many benefits to this exercise. Cutting vegetables helps promote fine motor skills. Children are introduced to words such as ‘capsicum’, ‘zucchini’ and ‘celery’, a great way to grow language skills – without them realising it’s happening! You can also introduce numeracy concepts like shape, size and weight.
Each step taken promotes and develops your child’s thinking skills. This activity also helps children to learn about daily hygiene and healthy food. Most of all, it’s a brilliant way to build confidence and independence at home!
Let us walk you through the activity – once you have tried this a few times, we encourage you to think about what other activities can be used in a similar fashion.
Dinner Preparation (Vegetables)
- Ingredients needed for meal
- A sink or large bowl
- Chopping board
- Cutlery for table setting
Part One: Washing vegetables
For this activity, involve your child in washing vegetables after you bring them home from the market or supermarket.
The more vegetables you have, the better.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Fill the sink/bowl with clean, cool water for washing your vegetables.
2. Show your child how to wash a vegetable by tipping it into the water and gently rubbing the skin with your hands.
3. Take the vegetable out of the water and dry it.
4. Once your child understands what they’re doing, you can let your child explore.
5. Watch what your child does and introduce words and concepts by talking and asking questions.
– Talk about colours. Ask your child to name the colours of the vegetables.
– Talk about shape, size, and texture. You can compare things – for example, “Which leaf is bigger?” and “This celery is longer than this carrot”.
– Explore floating and sinking, ask your child to guess whether something will float or sink before it goes in the water.
– Talk about which parts of the plant the produce comes from. Spinach is a leaf vegetable, radishes and carrots are roots, and tomatoes are fruits (even if they don’t taste sweet!).
Part Two: Cutting Vegetables
Cutting with a knife is a complex skill; the two hands must do two different things at the same time, and careful movement must accompany concentration during the task.
If you are starting this at home with a younger child, consider using a dull knife and a banana as a start.
Part Three: Cooking the Vegetables
Get a little step stool and allow your child to watch you as you start cooking the vegetables.
Invite your child to try, reminding him to only hold/touch the handle of the pan as the other parts will be very hot.
Part Four: Set the Table
Table setting plays an important part to further develop your child’s independence and self-esteem, strengthening their sense of belonging. Learn more about table setting for young children here .