Cooking with Kids

Set Expectations for Bodies

  • Particularly when tools are being used, it is important that students understand the space their body can take up and the space where the tool should be both when it is being utilized and when it is idle. It is ideal for students to each have a comfortable seat at a table and have their own individual cutting board work space. It is recommended that the teacher transports the tools to the space that has been selected for them after all of the students are comfortably sitting.

Set Expectations for Minds

  • It is important to hold the students’ attention while giving instructions, particularly about the use of tools. A phrase such as “When I say go, but not before I say go” can give students an indicator that they are to remain focused on the instructions until they hear the word “go.”
  • In addition, providing a “call back” will ensure that the teacher can regain the students’ attention when they are working with tools.

Set Expectations for Tools

  • When using tools, it is important that the teacher and the students are “speaking the same language” and have a common understanding of the parts of the tool and the function of each.
  • Students should be able to correctly name the tool and the structures (parts) of the tool. Further, students should understand the function of structures and how they can interact with them. For example, the “handle” is the part of the tool that they hold (and perhaps, the only part of the tool they are allowed to touch). This can be further reiterated by having a visual cue such as a certain color tape around the handle so students know they can “only touch the green,” for example.
  • Additionally, students should understand the function of the tool and how they are to use it. For example, the “blade” of the knife is a wedge (simple machine) that can divide with downward force. The way in which these actions happen should also be described such as “low and slow.” Another helpful saying for using knives if “claw and saw” describing the way that the vegetable is held (claw) and the motion of the serrated knife (saw).

Students should understand that while cooking with tools, the same expectations for the space apply. Likewise, the same positive and negative consequences for meeting those expectations apply. Often this is the logical consequence of receiving verbal acknowledgement of their responsibility with the tool or losing the opportunity to use the tool. Due to the use of tools for these activities, it is even more critical that these expectations are reviewed and modeled before beginning so students can self monitor their behavior.
With students in small groups and with appropriate tool use modeled and practiced, completing cooking tasks with kids can be both manageable for the teacher and meaningful for the students.