Full disclosure, I LOVE to cook. There is not much I enjoy more than working in the kitchen. So, I guess it is not surprising that I also LOVE cooking with my students in the classroom. And, although it can get messy, and it takes a watchful eye and careful planning to keep it clean and safe for all involved, the kids loved it just as much as I did.
Every Friday, we would have “kitchen time.” I would have a recipe ready to go that usually went along with something we were learning about. Early in the year, it almost always revolved around the letter of the week. And, in the fall like it is now, we did LOTS with apples. One of our favorites was to make applesauce. I liked it because we did not have to get access to the stove or oven in the teacher’s lounge. We just used a crock pot, and that made it so easy.
One of my goals when cooking with my students, was to make it as independent for them as possible. I had kids from ages 5 to 12, so there were a lot of ability levels to address if we were all cooking the same recipe. So, that meant a lot of up front prep work for me. But, I came up with a system that we tweaked over the years, and worked really great. Here is what we did. (Be sure to read to the end to get your FREE copy of my Applesauce picture recipe.)
First, I would print recipe labels to put on the actual ingredients. These would match the picture symbols I used in the recipe.
Then, each student got a recipe depending on their learning level.
- Some used a recipe with just words and a check box.
- Some used a recipe with pictures symbols,
- Some used a recipe with actual photos.
Then, we would divide up the jobs.
- Some were on the hunt to gather all the right ingredients.
- Some were in charge or reading out the directions and checking off the steps once completed.
- Some did the actual measuring. (Although, some years or with some recipes, I pre-measured things to make it easier.)
- Some were in charge of using the equipment, like a peeler, a knife and cutting board, or blender.
There were plenty of jobs to go around.
Once the cooking was finished, we were sure to clean up the area and wash any dishes. When the food was ready, it was time to feast and enjoy. Of course, I had A LOT of students with food sensory issues, and not everyone wanted to eat what we had made, but that was okay. Everyone still seemed to enjoy the process.
As a last step, we often completed a writing prompt. (I talked about these two weeks ago, and you can read more about using writing prompts by clicking on the picture below.) They loved to talk about how something tasted or felt in their mouth and on their tongue. So many great adjectives we could pull in to describe our scrumptious meal.
Cooking in the classroom is such a great way to work on so many various skills, some academic and some more life-skilled based. If you have not tried it, I encourage you to give it a try. It did not always go perfectly, but I still felt it was totally worth the effort.
Want to try it? Click on the button below to get a FREE copy of my Applesauce Recipe.
Want to try even more? Check out my Cooking Through the Alphabet Unit which has 26 different recipes (one for every letter of the alphabet.) Just click on the image below. Finally, if you have bought any of my units, you know I love to sneak these recipes into my novel units, my other literacy units, science units, and even some of my social studies units. There is not better way to connect with a region than through its food. Wouldn’t you agree?!?