fun with food: learning in the kitchen with kids

Over the last few years, we’ve had a ton of fun with food over here. 

I love food, my kids love food, my husband loves food, and we all really love trying new things and making meals together.

Little do my kiddos know that every time they don their aprons in the kitchen with me, they’re secretly working on their reading, math, science, and so many more important skills while they’re looking at recipes, measuring ingredients, and watching their creation come to life. It’s fun for them, and it’s fun for me.

If parents and teachers can handle a little bit more of a mess and prescribe themselves a extra dose of patience (some can, and some cannot–I totally get that!), toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children–kids of all ages–can all benefit by helping in the kitchen.

Kids don’t even realize they’re learning when they’re cooking.  They just think they’re having fun with food!

Here are a few of the ways we have fun with food over here (and sneak in a little bit of learning in the kitchen!):

  • Counting & Sorting: When little ones are interested in something, we’ve got to use it to our teaching advantage, whether it’s sports or crafts or cooking. My youngest always wants to help me prepare dinner, so that’s when I sneak in some counting, sorting, and color-learning!

My tiny Cora loves helping prepare food  in the kitchen,

whether it’s cutting or counting or learning about parts of a whole.


  • Conducting Experiments: Science in the kitchen? Absolutely!

Kids can learn so much with a little guidance and some direction. . . and with leftover candy, there’s no telling what they can do!

Ice-cream in a bag? Yes–Ziplock Ice-cream was SO much fun!!

They can conduct experiments on Halloween candy. . .

. . . and they can even ‘paint’ with candy!


experimenting with leftover candy canes


  • Reading:  We have followed dozens of recipes that I’ve modified or made more kid-friendly.  With larger print, pictures, and clearly defined steps, kids can really work their early literacy skills while having fun with food!


Cookie baking. . .

and rhubarb pie-making gave us reason to do some recipe-reading, along with tons of other foods!


  • Trying New Things: New textures, new tastes, new smells, and new sounds, food is a super-awesome way to introduce new things to our little ones!


You got it– kolhrabi. It’s awesome.

 Star Fruit– a lot more pretty than kohlrabi and a tad bit sweeter.

But Cora was beaming when she mastered making pancit for the first time!

Chopsticks, colors, and sorting = FUN with candy

  • Learning Shapes: With some red licorice and shape cards, my kids loved learning their shapes!

super sweet shape snacks


  • Celebrating Holidays: Along with great crafts and games and family traditions, holidays also provide yet another reason to have some fun with food!

 These Spooky Ghosts rocked our Halloween party–

. . . like our fake fingers, eyeballs, and boogies!

  • Creating Patterns: Patterning in crafts or cooking help our kiddos with math and critical thinking skills.

Veggie kabob patterns were a bit more healthy –

  but my kiddos totally ‘hearted’ playing with patterns using candy message hearts!


  • Researching: Having fun with food also means doing a little bit of research sometimes.

We researched to learn what kind of apples an apple tree produced,

and how to open our first coconut (among many other New For Us Friday foods!).


  • Using Imaginations: When they’re given the ‘go’, kids never cease to amaze me with what they can created, and the same thing goes for creating in the kitchen!

Maddy and Owen stretched their brains to create Cora’s bumblebee cupcakes!

And we all had a ‘splash’ creating Owen’s pool party cupcakes, too!

 Candy Sushi took the cake at Maddy’s birthday party!


  • Showing Love for Pets:  Our Brady is quite the spoiled pooch–with our attempt at homemade dog treats, my kids not only had fun in the kitchen, they showed their furry brother how much they love him!

Brady loved his homemade dog treats–fun with food for dogs, not humans. (But we all tried them!)

And that’s about it for the Fun with Food round-up!

I am grateful to have been invited by my pal Deborah, of Teach Preschool, to participate in her ABC Round-Up, part of her celebration for reaching 20,000 Facebook likes. WHEW, right?  She’s just that awesome, as is her blog. Thank you, Deborah for all you do to promote early learning in fun, hands-on, and worthwhile ways!! Congrats!

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Comment (29) | Leave a comment

  1. Isn’t it amazing the amount of learning that takes place in the kitchen? This is a wonderful roundup of food fun Amy! Thank you so much for participating today!

    • Deborah–it IS amazing and I am SO completely excited to have participated today!! YOU are wonderful and I am so happy to be a part of your HUGE milestone!!

  2. There are few things in life that are as fabulous as fun with food for a preschooler! We’ve been quite busy making and exploring things this week that we’ve later munched on for snack!

    • Ayn! I totally agree–food and glitter (at least for my preschooler!) are two of our faves!

  3. Wow food is fun! :)
    Here is an activity we did – I thought you might be interested!

    • Leeanne! I love this idea and the pictures are adorable!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh- I love the little bears swimming on top of the cupcakes!! some of the children in my classroom struggle with accepting new foods, so it’s always helpful to find new ways to introduce new foods to them in a fun way- ok, maybe not swimming teddy grahams (they are probably all familiar with those), but starfruit…awesome idea!

    • hoooray! Pam, thank you–the bears are one of our faves–but our family has come to love and look forward to New For Us Fridays, so if you decide to go with something similar and try out a new something, please do share!!

  5. GREAT, great, super fun, fantab ideas!!

  6. What a truly BEAUTIFUL post. Beautiful on so very many levels! Wow!

    Isn’t it terrific that Deborah brought us all together for this epic brilliant project — romping through the Alphabet. It’s like a whole conference & you don’t have to leave your living room.

    Great to see you, Amy!!

    I got to contribute on M for Music of course!!!

    • Debbie!! Only a few more months and we get to meet at the NAEYC conference!! I am so thankful for your kind words, my friend, and of COURSE you’d have M for Music–you are the queen of music!! Love it!!

  7. Love all your ideas and love cooking with my preschoolers. Great blog:-)

    • Famika–thank you, thank you!! I truly appreciate your comment and kind words!!

  8. So much food & so many ideas! Truly amazing!

  9. What a nice way to get us back in teh kitchen! I will be able to cook again! I thought I had done a lot of exotic/unusual/ non-mainstream food…Kolhrabi I have yet to try. Will be back here again, referencing. Thanks for putting it all together in one post.

    • you are SO very welcome, my friend! thanks for stopping by!!

  10. Great post! It is amazing all the things you can learn while preparing food! We spend lots of time in the kitchen!

  11. Well I have learnt something new today… kohlrabi… who’da thunk! :)

  12. I now know how to open a coconut! Spooky ghosts will be made at Halloween in our house. Thanks

  13. Great ideas for learning and play in the kitchen! We just went to a market where they had jackfruit and thought of this post!

    • Chrissy! Thanks so much for the kind words–jackfruit?! I see a NFUF in the future!!


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