Cooking Skills By Age
Under 3 Years Old
Sensory: It's all about touching, smelling, and tasting. Feel, taste, mix, wash ingredients.
-Get them interested: Give them a spoon and large bowl. Any combination of ingredients will due to make them feel important.
-Get them curious: Reserve a space in your kitchen for plastic containers, spoons, cheap pots and pans. Play kitchen sets are popular with both genders at this age.
-Get them tasting: Let them try age-appropriate foods as you are cooking in the kitchen.
-Get talking: Talk to them about the foods while you cook. Active conversations like these will make them feel involved and will help them learn food names and procedures.
-Take them shopping: While at the grocery store, talk about the different foods you see and let them touch the fruits and vegetables. Give them the decision to choose what vegetable you will have for dinner that night!
6-8 Years Old
Fine motor skills are more developed so they can handle higher detailed tasks. They still need lots of safety reminders though to help keep their little fingers safe while using more advanced tools.
-Read and follow simple recipes
-Basic meal planning (MyPlate)
-Learn basic food labeling
-Wash and chop salad ingredients
-Make and pack their own lunch
-Peel fruit and vegetables with a peeler
-Measure ingredients using cups and spoons
-Cut soft foods with a blunt knife
-Set the table
-Roll and shape cookies
13-16+ Years Old
-Create own recipes
-Prepare entire meals with little to no help
-Math-Dividing portions, doubling recipes
-Time management: Have all components of a meal finish at about the same time
-Proper storage and freezing of leftovers
-Recipe modifications to make healthier
-Dressings and sauces
-Grocery Shopping: Compare prices, shopping on a budget
3-5 Years Old
Short attention spans at this age call for short tasks. As motor skills continue to develop, preschoolers can learn and practice basic cooking skills they will need later in the kitchen.
-Assemble ingredients: Top a pizza, make a sandwich, build a taco, layer a lasagna, prepare a smoothie, build veggie and fruit skewers, decorate cookies/cakes.
-Mix, measure, and pour wet and dry ingredients.
-Strip and tear lettuces and herbs
-Rinse and strain fruit and vegetables
-Crack and whisk eggs
-Mash potatoes and bananas
-Peel eggs and fruit
-Knife Skills: Beginner safety and proper use of butter knife, nylon cooking knife, and scissors.
9-12 Years Old
Help your preteen become more independent in the kitchen by giving them more responsibility. Still keep an eye on them for safety though.
-Meal Planning and Shopping List
-Open cans with can opener
-Prepare many parts of a simple recipes without help
-Work with timers and thermometers
-Use specialty appliances
-Using a chef's knife
-Advanced label reading
-Turning appliances on and off
-Trim and slice vegetables and fruit
-Safely put food in and out of the oven
-Timers and thermometer
-Specialty appliances; food processor, blender, mixer