It teaches math skills, patience, following directions, fine motor skills, problem-solving, helps with speech/language, and builds confidence, just to name a few. It may even help a picky eater try new foods. Cooking is also great for any child in a transforming play schema, or even rotation (mixing).
You can include your toddler in almost any of your daily cooking, either just by mixing or seasoning, or helping to cut ingredients. But maybe you’re not much of a cook yourself, and don’t know what to make with your child.
Well, I’m here to help! You can come up with lots of fun cooking or baking activities that go along with your child’s favorite books! There are even some wonderful books that include the recipe to go along with the story.
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Here’s 10 cooking activities for toddlers inspired by books:
- Round As A Tortilla by Roseanne Thong & Veggie Quesadillas. We’ve used this recipe from Erhardts Eat a few times, once adding shredded chicken. Toddlers can help with every step, and it’s a lot of fun to assemble their own. You can adapt this to make any kind of quesadilla or taco with your tortilla!
- Dim Sum For Everyone by Grace Lin & Dim Sum. This is more time consuming but can be a fun special occasion meal. I picked 4 recipes to try and we did it over two days. I did prepare some pieces of it myself but my 2.5 year old daughter had a lot of fun folding the dumplings and egg rolls. We used these recipes from Omnivore's Cookbook: Egg Roll, Shumai, and Wonton Soup. If you search “Dim Sum” on her website, she has a ton of delicious recipes to choose from. I also used this recipe for Coconut and Red Bean Pudding.
- Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger & Lemonade. Making juice is an easy Practical Life Activity for any toddler. Check out instructions here.
- Thundercake by Patricia Polacco & Thundercake. A sweet story about a grandma helping a child through their fear of thunderstorms by baking. The recipe for this easy to make cake is at the back of the book. My daughter really liked sifting the flour for this recipe.
- Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard & Fry Bread. While the frying should be done by an adult, children can help making and forming the dough. The recipe for this delicious Fry Bread is at the back of the book.
- Going on A Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury & A Bear Cave. Your child can have fun building a bear cave using graham crackers (or any of their favorite crackers) and peanut butter. Once built, add a graham bear or gummy bear.
- If You Give a Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff & Chocolate Chip Cookies. Use your favorite cookie recipe, or try this simple flourless peanut butter recipe from The Rising Spoon. You can have more fun pairing foods with other Laura Numeroff books, such as If You Give A Moose A Muffin or If You Give A Pig A Pancake.
- Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel & Snail Pizza. While this book may not necessarily be Montessori-aligned, it’s one of my daughter’s favorites. And making your own pizza is always fun! We made cute little snails out of mozzarella sticks, pepperoni slices and peppers for the antennae. Kids can have alot of fun getting creative with different ingredients.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle & Fruit Salad. Have your child pick their favorite fruits and practice cutting them into different shapes and sizes!
- Soup Day by Melissa Iwai & Vegetable Soup. Recipe for vegetable soup is at the back of the book. My daughter really likes this book and soup of any kind, so this was fun to make. We referenced the book as we cut the vegetables and talked about the shapes. There's also Pizza Day by the same author.
So pull up the learning tower and enjoy these 10 super fun cooking activities for toddlers!
For more tips on how to cook with your toddler, read our article by Florence Taylor here.