How to start cooking with your students in the classroom
Developing Important Life Skills
Highly processed products and convenience foods have become the easy choice in today’s busy world. Since families are cooking less at home, food skills may not get passed down to children and youth. Food skills can help students build self-confidence and can provide a feeling of success. Taking part in food-related tasks can also encourage children to try new foods.
There’s no denying that magic happens when you bring children and food together. Cooking in the classroom can be like a field trip, but without the hassle of recruiting volunteers or organizing buses.
Are you intimidated by the thought of trying to wrangle 20 or more students into a cooking class? It can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Equipment and Classroom Set-Up
- Bring basic supplies to the classroom (e.g., mixing bowls, cutting boards, knives, blender) if you don’t have access to a fully equipped kitchen.
- Think about set-up in your classroom and how you will divide students into groups. Have workstations close to outlets or plan for extension cords if equipment needs to be plugged in.
- Get extra help from EA’s, parents, grandparents or older students who may be looking for volunteer credits.
- Ask students if they have interest in trying certain types of recipes.
- Consider food intolerances, allergies, and other restrictions based on personal choices, religion and culture.
- Determine the amount you want to serve to each student; a snack-size portion may be plenty. Wondering how much to make? A recipe that serves four adults should make enough for 16 students.
- For an easy recipe, watch this Tzatziki Yogurt Dip video.
Setting Clear Expectations
- Put together a list of basic safety guidelines that you and your students agree on.
- Brainstorm a list of clean-up duties which may include wiping counters or sweeping in addition to washing, drying and putting away dishes.
Practicing Basic Food Skills
- Get students to wash, measure or mix ingredients. Ask them to cube cheese or cut fruit with a butter knife.
- Have students set the table, portion food on plates or serve to their classmates.
Enjoy Food Together
- Eat together to further develop food literacy skills and reinforce positive eating habits.
- Support a mindful approach to eating. Encourage students to make conscious food choices, take time to eat and pay attention to hunger and fullness.
- Let students decide if they want to try the recipe. Learning to like a new food is a multi-step process that includes seeing it, touching it, smelling it and observing others eating it.
- Ask students for feedback on what they found easy or difficult, what they learned or what changes they’d make for next time.
For simple recipes to make with your students, order a class set of the Spin-a-Smoothie resource.