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Teach Your Child How to Read a Recipe

Teaching your child to read and follow a recipe can be good fun! Besides being a valuable skill in the kitchen, reading a recipe teaches volume, weight, temperature, time, fractions, and sequencing!

All kids love to help out in the kitchen. Being allowed to assist with the measuring, pouring and tasting is a rite of passage. Helping Mom or Dad prepare a meal or bake a batch of cookies makes a child feel very grownup!

Your kitchen will have most items necessary to teach your child to follow a recipe. Even very young children can help.


Your toddler may not be able to read words or recognize numbers, but they can follow your directions with help. Show your child the number or fraction of an ingredient in a recipe. Then let them help you pour the ingredients in with your help. Half the fun is dumping it in the bowl!

You will need to crack eggs, grate cheese and slice most foods of course, but your little one can put them in the bowl and stir. Let them add the chocolate chips or raisins.

Setting the timer is a good way to teach the concept of elapsed time. Waiting teaches patience!

Clean the kitchen up while you are waiting for your dish to bake, chill or set. Your little one can help with that too. Enjoy your creation together.

As your child approaches age 4 or 5, they will be able to recognize some numbers and be able to match them with the lines on the measuring cup and choose the correct measuring spoons.

Main points to address:

  • Your preschooler can help measure, pour and stir.
  • Let your child help clean up.
  • Older preschoolers can begin to recognize amounts.

Grades K-6th

Young school children may not be able to read the entire recipe, but they can start to recognize amounts and measure with some accuracy.

Start with a simple recipe, perhaps one with 4 or 5 ingredients. Soups, fruit salads, cookies and quick breads are good things to start with. Choose something together that your child likes to eat.

Having the right equipment will make everything easier. A good set of plastic measuring cups, stainless steel or plastic measuring spoons, wooden spoons, a wire whisk (be careful of hair), plastic mixing bowls a rolling pin and an apron for each of you are essential. You will also need a cookie sheet, loaf pans, cake pans and various sizes of sauce pans. Most kitchens have these supplies.

Read over the recipe together first. Gather your ingredients and your measuring tools, spoons and bowls. Prepare any pans or cookie sheets and set the temperature. Starting at the beginning, go step by step until you are done. Reread the recipe to make sure you haven’t forgotten the sugar or salt!

Children 6 to 7 will be able to perform more of the hands-on steps. Teach them the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon. Let them pour some of the ingredients and stir dry ingredients together.

Children 8 or 9 years old can begin to make simple dishes by themselves with your supervision. Because kids love to cook, they will be motivated to learn the fractional parts used in measuring.

Older children can start following recipes independently. If they need to bring a dish or treat to school or to a club activity, why not have them choose a recipe and prepare it?

If your child really enjoys preparing foods, help them to collect recipes of dishes they have made or want to make someday. Recipe or index cards can be stored in a box or pasted into a notebook. Your child may want to cut recipes from magazines that look appealing.

There are several good cookbooks on the market for young people. They include recipes that are especially kid-proof- easy to follow and fun to make. Your older child will like experimenting with variations and perhaps adding their own touch to decorating or presenting what they make.

Cooking is one of those life skills that can really impact our quality of life. In a very real sense, we are what we eat. If your child has a real flair for cooking, do what you can to support their talent and give them frequent opportunities to cook.

Main points to address:

  • Start with simple recipes of foods your child enjoys.
  • Read the recipe before beginning; gather all ingredients and supplies first.
  • Older kids can make simple dishes themselves if you supervise.
  • Your child may want to collect favorite recipes.
  • Find a children’s cookbook for your young chef to experiment with.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Education.

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