Making the Kitchen Fun for the Wee Ones

My parent’s farm is about 25 minutes from ANY town and there were not many children my age to play with in rural ole Drury.

Now, don’t get me wrong there was plenty to do when the weather was nice outside. I would ride horses, go swimming in the creek, ride the four wheeler all around the back roads and on the farm, catch bugs and crawdads, help my mother plant flowers or help dad in the garden or with the cows, take walks through the woods and I had my daily chores every morning and night as well. So, as you can see there was always plenty to do, but when the weather was rainy, cold, snowy….You options were limited.

It was days like these that my mother would pull me into the kitchen and the craft making would begin.

It’s funny how small memories like this have really stuck out in my mind. In fact, if I really think back this is how my mother really introduced to me the kitchen. She made the kitchen a place of fun for me at an early age. I truly believe this is one reason I enjoy being in the kitchen so much today as a young woman.

So, today I want to share nontraditional “cooking” recipes that can help you teach the joys of the kitchen with your children. I know you and your kids will have as much fun making these crafts as I did with my mother, plus you’re making memories and traditions together – and those will last a lifetime.

Here are some of my suggestions for making crafts in the kitchen with your kids a bit easier on you:

· Embrace the mess. Children are messy. Children in the kitchen are even messier. If it makes you feel better, cover the table or counter with newspaper or plastic bags. After that, let it go and enjoy the activity.

· Keep the projects appropriate for the child’s age and skill and the time you have.

· Make maracas: Fill clean screw-top plastic bottles with different quantities of dry foods (such as beans, rice or peanuts) to create a variety of maracas. Children also can decorate paper labels to tape around the outside of the bottles.

· Fashion jewelry out of pasta and cereal: String cereal O’s and different shapes of pasta tubes on yarn or kitchen twine to make necklaces and bracelets. Use markers to color the pasta. (This was one of my favorites!)

· Paint with pudding: Make several different batches of instant pudding, then let children paint on paper with it using large brushes or their fingers. And the best part: it’s ok if they lick their fingers.

· Plant a forest: Of sugar cone trees, that is. Hopkins says that overturned ice cream cones can be decorated like trees (or spaceships or towers or…) using candy sprinkles, peanut butter, prepared frosting, or anything else that sticks.

All the following recipes are from: — Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.eduPlay

Play-Dough
(Start to finish: 10 minutes)

1/2 c. kosher salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. cream of tartar
1 T. vegetable oil
1 c. water
Liquid food coloring

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the food coloring. Stir until well-mixed, then add food coloring a few drops at a time until desired color is reached. The mixture will start out soupy.

Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the mixture begins to clump, dry and gets difficult to move the spoon through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough to a dry work surface.

When the dough has cooled to the touch, knead until smooth and cool. To store, refrigerate the dough in plastic bags. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Colored Salt
(Start to finish: 10 minutes)
Zip-close plastic bag
3 T. coarse salt (such as kosher)
Food coloring
White glue
Construction paper

In the plastic bag, combine the salt and 2 or more drops of food coloring. Seal the bag and shake until the salt is colored. Use the glue to create patterns or designs on the paper, then sprinkle the salt over it. Let the glue and salt set for a few minutes, then tip the paper to remove excess salt. Repeat the process with different colors.


Bubbles
2/3 c. Joy dish soap
1 gallon water
2 to 3 T. glycerin (available at pharmacies)

In a large bowl, gently stir together all ingredients. Let sit uncovered overnight. To blow bubbles, fashion hoops from pipe cleaners or tubes from toilet paper and paper towels.

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