Young children are learning to use the small (fine motor) and large (gross motor) muscle groups in their hands and arms.
Activities such as scooping, pouring, cutting, scrubbing, tearing, and dipping allow them that practice.
Think of all the different ways that cooking can help children to strengthen their large (gross) and small (fine) muscle groups. Not just the cutting and stirring but the cleaning process as well. Putting items away exercises large muscle groups as does wiping the tables or sweeping the floors. Small muscle groups are exercised in chopping, tearing, and in actually eating the meals.
Children’s bodies are growing and their muscle movements are not precise. They will spill, bump, splash and pour ingredients onto the countertops, but you must refrain from becoming frustrated. One way to do this is to allow extra time during a cooking activity. Allowing for extra time decreases the pressure and stress on all parties involved and allows more comprehensive practice of executive functioning skills. You may also consider putting a plastic tablecloth on the countertop to catch the messes and allow for easy clean up. Whatever you have to do to make the cooking experiences stress free is very important to consider!
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