Cooking with a toddler

If you’ve ever attempted cooking/baking with a toddler in the kitchen, you know how fun this experience can be! As previously mentioned in the chores post, my toddler loves to help in the kitchen. This past weekend, we explored an even more exciting task, cooking!  I’ve let her explore mixing ingredients like flour and water when she was about 14 months old.  It was, as to be expected, extremely messy and I was cleaning flour out of the grout for months it seemed.  But, she was learning to mix slowly to keep the ingredients in the bowl, she learned you have to keep the bowl on the table so it doesn’t fall over, and she learned that once the ingredients are on the floor you have to clean up the mess.

But, on Friday night she saw daddy take out the mixing bowl and immediately she went to the drawer and pulled out her own whisk.  She wasn’t able to vocalize that she wanted to help mix the ingredients and daddy wasn’t catching her clues.  He hasn’t been in the kitchen when she’s helped “cook” in the past.  After I entered the room again (I’ve hit the part in pregnancy when you go to the bathroom every 10 minutes), I quickly figured out what she was upset about.  I was able to bring in a chair from the dining room, wash up her hands and help her mix the ingredients to make french toast.  This suddenly became a meal made by the entire family!

We were able to count the eggs as daddy cracked them open and dumped them one-by-one into the mixing bowl.  We added in the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and dash of milk as she slowly mixed all of the ingredients together.
DSC_0053 - Version 2.jpgAfter she mixed everything together, we let daddy take over and cook the french toast while we put the chair back, washed our hands again, and set the table.  First we counted out 3 forks and she carried those over to the table.  Then, I handed her one plate at a time and she carried that over to the table.  She put a plate at each spot and then put each fork on top of the plate.  I was impressed because I just asked her to carry it to the table.  We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner that we all had a hand in making!

Getting your children into the kitchen at a young age can really teach some valuable skills. Although some cooking tasks can become quite extensive with a toddler in the kitchen, the reality is they want to be there helping.  Find ways that you can bond and extend learning opportunities with tasks you are already doing.  The more we guide them, the more self-relient they will become!  Happy cooking!  I’ll make another post about our experience making banana bread from this weekend as well!

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Read to your child!

There have been numerous studies that say if you read to your child, they will do better in school.  However, I have found plenty of other benefits to read to my toddler. The added educational incentive is just icing on the cake.  There are times when I struggle to understand a word she is saying.  She is 2 and can say plenty of words, but as a parent it is hard to compare your child to other children.  So, when I struggle to understand her, but can clearly understand a child the same age repeating everything I say, well it can be discouraging.

But, the point of this post isn’t about my toddler’s speech.  It is about the awesome books we read together.  When I say we read together, she is starting to pick up the words in the story.  Can she read at the age of 2, gosh no.  I am not crazy.  She is remembering the story from the million times we have read it to her over the last 2 years of her life.  But, she will be able to pick up the words faster because of this repetition.

So, here are some of our absolute favorite stories to read throughout the day (because books aren’t just for bedtime).

cuddle-208213444_std

This story is from Usborne books and you can get a teddy bear to cuddle!

Cuddle bear is a great story about why hugs are important to give.  It shows love and affection in appropriate ways and helps children learn that everyone needs love.  PS. I may be a little bias, but I feel my toddler gives the best hugs!

on-the-night-you-were-born

Absolutely stunning pictures!

youre-here-for-a-reason

Seriously, you need to check out Nancy Tillman’s work

Nancy Tillman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  Her stories are extremely powerful for any child or adult.  The key theme for everyone of her books is that you are a valued and loved person on this planet.  You can do amazing things and that no one is exactly like you.  At the end of all of her books she states, “You are loved.”  She is such a powerful author and the pictures are just majestic.  I may be buying this series of books for every child I know and ones that have yet to be born.

pete-the-cat

Great story to sing and dance!

Pete the Cat was a gift from our toddler’s Godparents.  Being a teacher, she chose a book that her kids were really interested in reading.  Let me tell you, it has been a huge hit at our house as well!  We started reading this book right away and singing our song!  At the time, we were learning how to put our shoes on and take them off.  This book was perfect to sing while we were putting shoes on or picking out shoes to wear for the day.  She now sings and dances while we read and really gets into the “Oh NO!”

No matter what books you enjoy reading with your child, the point is to read.  Spend that quality one on one time with them and allow them to pick out the books.  I should mention the little one has two bookshelves completely full of books and she will always find these books.  So, this week, enjoy a few extra books.  Read while you’re waiting at a restaurant, read as you’re making dinner, read outside (looks like the weather is finally breaking!) under a tree.  Just read!