Cooking Ideas

Several teachers have asked for recipes that I used to cook with my Kindergartners.  I am happy to share this chart of some of the cooking projects we did through the year.  I wasn’t usually this organized about it though – I made this chart by going through old lesson plans, not at the beginning of the year.  There were some cooking projects that I repeated every year, other times I was making something up as we went along.

Cooking themes

Here is another list of the cooking ideas:

cooking projects

I didn’t always have a written recipe for the children to follow, but when you can that adds another great learning extension – it gives the children a real life reason to read, and shows one way we use numbers and math skills.

Dinosaur Footprints were one of my own children’s favorite simple cooking projects, so of course I had to share that with Owen.

You will need bread, peanut butter (I called it prehistoric mud), jelly if desired (called berry bush jam) and a toaster.

Lightly toast a piece of bread and place it on the plate so that the rounded top of the bread is at the bottom.  You could do this with untoasted bread, but it is a little more difficult for children to cut.

Spread prehistoric mud (peanut butter) on the bread.

Use a plastic serrated knife to cut out 2 triangles (toe nails).  I always demonstrated the cooking project in front of the whole class before a parent volunteer called them to do it in small groups.  I talked about starting to cut at the corner of the bread, and pressing down with the knife while I sawed it back and forth.  Owen – at 2 – needed me to help him hand over hand.  Many Kindergartners can get the hang of using the knife with careful supervision.

I told the children these “toe nails” are a special treat!  Owen is usually a firm no-crust kind of guy, but he gobbled the triangle toe nails, crust and all.

Some dinos walk through berry bushes – the children decided whether to include the berry bush jam.

As you can see, Owen refused the crust on the footprint – but he loved it anyway!  At school I often offered prehistoric swamp water to go along with it – either milk tinted green with food color, or green Kool Aid.

Love Muffins

For Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day we made Love Muffins.  I bought Jiffy Baking Mix and used the directions for baking 12 muffins.  Our Cooking Mom called 6 kids at a time and involved all of them in the measuring and mixing.  They added 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips to the batter.  After spooning the muffins into the paper cups they sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on top before baking.

We were able to use a real oven in our teacher’s lounge for baking projects.  If I had the luxury of an extra parent she might take a pan of muffins to the oven to cook as soon as it was filled.  If we only had one mom she waited to do the baking until all children had a chance to cook.  Each child ate one muffin at school, and took one home for Mom, or someone they loved.

ME Face

Me face

Along with our ME unit we made faces out of rice cakes.  I offered peanut butter or cream cheese to spread on.  For hair I also bought cheese puffs – the kind that are a couple of inches long.  The kids stuck them in and they really made the faces look funny.  For mouths I bought twistable red licorice.  We didn’t use much and it saved well for other projects.

Teddy Bear Pancakes

I used pancake mix that only required the addition of water.  Parents had to do the cooking on an electric griddle I bought for my room – you can usually find a pretty good one at a garage sale!  The parent made one big circle and 2 small circles for each child.  As you very well know – kids don’t wait well.  The parent would pre-make one set of the large and small pancakes – enough for a group of 5-6 kids.  Then she would call a group to come and mix up batter.  That group would eat the batch she had pre-made.  Then the next group would eat the batch the first group mixed up.  When you do this you have an extra batch of pancakes at the end – but it does make the process go more smoothly.  The secretaries and office loved getting our left overs.  Another suggestion would be to send kids to do a job of some sort while the pancakes cooked.  It just doesn’t work well to have them sitting and waiting at the table, inevitably there will be some who get rowdy.

I usually did this project early in the year when we were reviewing shapes and singing our circle song, to the tune of Frere Jacques.

This is a circle, this is a circle.

How can you tell?  How can you tell?

It goes round and round, no ends can be found

It’s a circle, it’s a circle.

They arranged the 2 small circles at the top for ears.  You can use chocolate chips or raisin for eyes if you’d like.  It gives the kids a chance to carefully serve themselves syrup too.

If you are cooking with children – or for that matter, anything you do with children, you need to think carefully about what you expect the children to learn from the experience.  Cooking experiences provide lots of opportunities to learn new vocabulary, practice numeric and math skills, fine motor development, social interactions, read recipes, incorporate science concepts, etc.  It didn’t matter to me whether the recipe was simply assembling food into shapes or actually cooking or baking.  Sometimes I referred to it as Cooking or Snack Math, so parents would understand that we wouldn’t always be actually cooking.   Most of the time the kids absolutely loved it!

Pudding in a Cloud

Waffle Clouds

I usually made one of these for our cooking project  during our weather unit.  To make Pudding in a Cloud I purchased instant chocolate pudding (or canned) and Cool Whip.  The children helped mix the pudding, and let it set.  They spooned Cool Whip into a clear plastic cup (like a punch cup) and spread it around the sides.  Then they spooned chocolate pudding inside.  Yum!

Sometimes waffle clouds consisted of toasted waffles, dusted with powdered sugar.  The kids loved using the sifter to serve the powdered sugar.  Other times I brought in my waffle iron and the children mixed up the batter – usually using a mix – and we actually made the waffles.

Mickey Mouse Sundaes

I am a big Mickey fan so we always celebrated his birthday (Nov. 18!).  One of our projects was making Mickey Sundaes – each child got a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and 2 small brown circle cookies.  I often used vanilla wafers because this was quite a big snack already..  Mickey’s eyes were M & Ms, his mouth was licorice and his nose was a chocolate malted milk ball – like Whoppers.  Hey – if you are a parent of trick or treat aged children you can save some of that candy for projects like this.  I also used to set aside Halloween candy to use for Gingerbread Houses.

3 Bears Porridge

I gave each child a packet of instant oatmeal.  They opened the package and poured it into a small bowl, an adult added the hot water (not boiling because it takes too long for it to cool!)  I provided choices of things to add like raisins, cinnamon, chocolate chips, etc.  The children stirred it and ate it!

Gummi Bear Graphs

You could do this kind of sorting and graphing with lots of foods – M & Ms, Froot Loops, any kind of gummis, Valentine conversation hearts etc.  I used gummi bears to introduce the whole concept.  We started out by sorting the bears by color.  I made construction paper sorting mats, I used the Ellison die cut machine to cut out the 4 colors of teddy bears – one for each mat.  I made 7 mats – one for me to demonstrate, 6 for the center.  I glued those bears onto dark blue construction paper and laminated them.  The children each got a baggie with about 12 gummi bears and sorted them by placing them on the matching color.  Here is a chart you could also use:

You might color the bars containing the color words to help the children.

You could use this recording sheet to practice counting, 1 to 1 correspondence and numeral writing.

Or you could use a graph like this:

When I demonstrated this graph I actually laid the bears onto the graph to make a concrete graph.  I talked about how I wanted to take my graph home, and I couldn’t pick it up with the bears on it so I showed the children how I could color each printed bear as soon as I removed the real bear and ate it.

Here are copies to print:


Gummy Bear Graph sheet


Please check back, I have lots more cooking ideas and recipes to share!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Stacey
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 10:52:55

    THANK YOU again for all the great ideas. I will definitely be using them — I start kindergarten in a week and a half and I am busy making the room full of places to experiment and experience learning — your site is a FIND and I cannot thank you enough!


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