Cooking with Kids | Banana Blueberry Muffins
No Fear for the Volunteer! It’s time to sign up on that Parent Activity Sheet and rock the classroom (or your next play date).
I don’t know who is more surprised during parent events at school: Parents who can’t believe their two year olds cooked, or the teachers who can’t believe that the parents can’t believe their two year olds can cook!
Cooking in its simplest form is to prepare food or to heat food so that it is safe to eat. When we prepare our meals, we put thoughtfulness, motor skills and our senses to work. Young children, including toddlers, have these abilities in spades. They are constantly using manipulatives, getting lost in sensory activities, and making arts and crafts at a simple level. This is why having cooking activities are so popular starting at such a young age. It doesn’t hurt that they are encouraged to eat their finished project either. They don’t get the same positive response from adults while eating blue crayons, play dough, paper, glue, or sand.
Naturally, for the uninitiated, a cooking project with very young children is intimidating. We are here to walk you through your next POSITIVE volunteer experience. The best thing to quell those fears is to be prepared and organized, organized, organized!
Things to remember:
Allergies and food sensitivities are a serious matter and will affect the recipes you choose for your activity. Clear every ingredient first with the head teacher or other playgroup parents They will notify you of any children with limitations, or make sure that the child is engaged in an alternate activity. The egg and butter substitutions are offered below, in case you need it.
For our first cooking project in this series, we are going very basic with Banana Blueberry Muffins. Most young children are familiar with these two fruits and don’t mind if they already baked these last month, or ate them this morning. Kids love ‘em.
Banana Blueberry Muffins
3 large ripe bananas,
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten (or 1/4c apple sauce or 1T flax meal mixed with 3T warm water, set aside)
1/3 cup melted butter (or coconut/ other veggie oil minus 1 tsp)
1 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
rubber spatula or wooden spoon plus one spare in case the spoon falls to the floor or goes into someone’s mouth
forks for mashing bananas
tablespoons & 1/4 measuring cup for filling liners
large mixing bowl (for wet)
medium mixing bowl (for dry)
small bowls for pre measured and divided ingredients -I like kalas bowls (ikea)
cupcake papers/ liners
ziploc sandwich bags
plastic bin/ tub to put all bowls and utensils in as soon as you are done with them to control clutter and mess
very clean, freshly washed hands (adult, children, assistant, EVERYONE needs clean hands)
Depending on the abilities of the children you are working with, pick and choose your own cooking adventure by selecting one step (a, b, or c) from each recipe segment (1-4) to complete your project. No matter which combo you choose, there are just six steps! Let us assume you are working with a small group of six children at a time. You may need to do this twice (two small groups) to feed the whole class. The younger the children, the more it takes to execute a simple project.
A: Show the children a whole banana (extra). After they identify it and see you peel it to expose the fruit within, give each child at the table a sealed, airtight ziploc bag holding peeled and cut banana pieces totaling three bananas among the six bags. Ask them to identify what is inside their bags. Distribute some of the extra peeled banana for them to snack on. Have the kids mash up their bagged bananas by pounding down with their fists. Scrape the contents of each bag with a rubber spatula into a large mixing bowl.
B: With a slit down one side of each banana keeping the peel on, and cut horizontally into half, give each child at the table a banana half. Have them remove the peel easily with the help of the slit (discard) and place the banana inside their own ziploc bags. Zip each bag closed, removing any air. Have the kids mash up their bananas by pounding with their fists. Any chunks can be pressed or squeezed b/w their fingers while still in the bag. Scrape the contents of each bag with a rubber spatula into a large mixing bowl.
C: Give each child a banana half to peel and put into a large mixing bowl. Have the kids take turns mashing them with a pastry cutter or with forks.
A: Divide the pre measured sugar and blueberries into small bowls, so every child has a portion of both. Try to give each child an equal number of blueberries. Have the children pour their sugar over the mashed bananas, while the adult adds the egg/ egg substitute. Each child can take turns mixing with the spatula or spoon for three – four revolutions. After the adult adds the butter or oil, have the children use their fingers to count out their blueberries while adding them to the bowl. As a group count how many turns of the spoon are needed for the adult to combine the wet ingredients. The children make take turns mixing once more.
B: Divide the sugar and the blueberries into two bowls each, totaling four bowls. With the egg/ egg replacement and butter/ butter substitute in two separate ramekins, have each child choose one of the six containers of ingredients. The sugar and egg holders will add their ingredients to the bananas and take turns mixing until combined. The butter/ subs and blueberry holders will then add their ingredients and take turns mixing further.
C: Have the children measure out the sugar and the blueberries, picking out shriveled berries if needed. If using flaxmeal & water as an egg replacement, compare the consistency of that with a slightly beaten egg to show the children their physical similarities as a binding ingredient. Explain the reason behind having to use a substitute due to a person’s allergies, and do the same with the butter and butter substitute if needed. Have the children add the sugar and egg/ egg substitute, then add butter/ substitute and blueberries. Take turns mixing it up and sing about cartoon characters who have food allergies (just kidding) – are there any?
A: Assign each child to add one of the five remaining pre-measured dry ingredients (dividing the flour to make two containers) to a separate bowl and take turns dry whisking to combine. Give the children cupcake papers to line the baking tin while the adult gently stirs the dry into the wet mixture. The children may help stir once or twice once it is fully incorporated. Do not over mix.
B: Combine the dry ingredients into a large sifter and help the children pat the sides, sifting the flour mix into a separate bowl. Gradually add the sifted ingredients into the bowl a scoop at a time, as each child takes a turn combining the dry mix into the wet mix with the wooden spoon. Give the children cupcake papers to line the baking tin, while you give the final stir
C: Combine the dry ingredients into a large sifter and help the children pat the sides, sifting the flour mix directly into the wet ingredients. Some children can sift in, as another mixes it together, giving each child a turn. Others may line the baking tin with cupcake papers while this is going on. Make sure the mixture is evenly incorporated.
A: Give the children extra blueberries or bananas if there are any, to munch on while you pour the batter equally into the baking cups, so that they do not eat the raw batter, in case this is a concern
B: Each child may use a tablespoon to halfway fill one paper liner each, and the adult will finish filling the 12 paper lined muffin tins equally. They may press extra blueberries into the tops.
C: Using a 1/4 measuring cup or a tablespoon, have the children assist with filing each paper liner equally. They may press extra blueberries into the tops. Optional: add sprinkles and colored sugar before baking for fun!
Wipe off spills on top of the tray with damp towel. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes, while you clean up. Cool completely (about 20-30 mins) in the pan on wire racks for an after nap treat!
Get ready for your star appearance in the daily highlights, classroom newsletter, or playgroup Facebook page!
With the right attitude and a few new techniques, you will hopefully find cooking with your preschoolers educational and dare we say, “Fun!” As Ina Garten would say, “How Easy Is That?”