Cooking with Kids...Without Losing Your Cool (Part Two - Kitchen Activities by Age)

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by Robin

This is Part Two in our Cooking with Kids...Without Losing Your Cool series.  In our first post we talked about:
  1. Why you should subject yourself to the messy prospect of bringing your kids in the kitchen (hint: it's really awesome for your kids in many many ways);
  2. How to prepare yourself;
  3. Where to start;
  4. How to keep it safe;
  5. How to set them (and you!) up for success.

Today, I'm sharing more ways to make success for likely for you and your kids.  Basically: how keep your expectations reasonable.  At different ages and developmental stages, some tasks are better than others.

Because remember:

If you are asking your kids to help with something they just aren't ready to do there WILL be someone laying on the floor and crying 
 and your kids do not need to see you like that.

Kitchen Activities by Age…   

2 to 3 year-olds:
  • Wash fruits or vegetables in the sink
  • Add items to dishes,
  • Counting ingredients
  • Help find things in the fridge or cupboard
  • Put paper cups into muffin tins

3 to 4 year-olds:

  • Pour from a small measuring cup
  • Help assemble a simple sandwich or pizza
  • Mash soft foods:
    • cooked vegetables, like potatoes, carrots
    • bananas for pancakes or banana bread
    • avocados for guacamole
  • Remove eggshells from hard-boiled eggs

4 to 6 year-olds:

  • Assemble foods:
    • trail mix, 
    • simple sandwiches 
    • toppings
  • Stir ingredients together:
    • batter for muffins, cakes, cookies
    • pancakes
    • sauces
  • Talk about where a food comes from
  • Slice with a plastic knife:
    • soft-cooked vegetables
    • soft fruit
    • cheese or tofu
  • Set the table
  • Crack and beat an egg

Assembling a homemade "Lunchable" is a great activity for kids.  
Check out our post for more ideas!

6 to 8 year-olds:

  • Use simple kitchen equipment (with supervision): 
    • Grater
    • Toaster
    • Blender
    • Can opener 
  • Toss salad 
  • Use kid-friendly cookbooks 
  •  Help write: 
    • list of healthy snacks
    • grocery list

Start with dull knives and work your way up from there.

  • Measure liquid & dry ingredients
  • With supervision:
    • Use small knife to cut
    • Grate and peel cheese and vegetables
    • Use microwave and blender
    • Mix, roll, and shape cookies
    • Knead dough

There's a lot more to food than preparing it.  Working in a garden or visiting a farm are valuable activities

10 to 11 year-olds:

  • Peel, cut, chop, shred, grate vegetables & fruit
  • With supervision:
    • Use sharper knives
    • Use the stove top
    • Put trays in the oven
    • Use a mandolin to slice
    • Follow simple recipes
    • Plan a meal

Age 12+:
  • Insert and remove food from the oven
  • Follow recipes with many ingredients
  • Plan a meal for the whole family
  • Prepare a meal for the whole family (with supervision, especially at first!)

Kids Cookbooks we Use and Love (- and your kids will, too!):

A great kids cookbook can engage and inspire kids in the kitchen!  Below are 4 of our favourites.  

  • Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook  This is a great cookbook for images - it shows step by step photos that help kids know they're doing the right thing.  The recipes are no fail, too - great for building kitchen confidence!

What's your experience?  What has worked well for you in the kitchen with your kids?


  1. When I was a kid, my mother often got mad at me whenever we cooked together. However all that moments becomes my sweet memories though. Now I sometimes cook with my cousin and I have to control myself to go crazy with him. May be your note “If you are asking your kids to help with something they just aren't ready to do there will be someone laying on the floor and crying” is right for my case.


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