We went to my Mom's house for Thanksgiving dinner and arrived early to help her cook. O offered to make his new specialty, an appetizer made with corks and walnuts.
First, you scrub the nuts and corks.
Then you put them in a frying pan.
(Oh, and don't forget to wear your Mardi Gras necklaces)
Finally, sauté until crispy.
If you need to be in the kitchen for a period of time, I suggest giving your toddler some of the tools that resemble yours but that you will not need. We gave O these items and he was engaged for at least 30 minutes. He moved the nuts and corks back and forth between the silver mixing bowls, dumped them on the floor and then picked them back up again. When he seemed like he was losing interest, I handed him the frying pan and he continued on with the activity.
We spent the night at my Mom's and as we sleepily drank coffee and ate pie, O was busily preparing his next entree. (Complete with Mardi Gras beads again)
Since Thanksgiving O has shown a greater interest in the kitchen supplies that he has access too. He is constantly walking around the house with a silver mixing bowl and adding rocks and corks to it and stirring it up with a wooden spoon or whisk. He has a small sauce pan that was my Grandmothers that he fills up, stirs, mixes and dumps out.
If you have any extra cooking utensils, like wooden spoons, whisks, small pots, colanders or mixing bowls, put them out for your child to play with and see how they interact with them. Encourage them to cook you a meal or just to mix up some ingredients.
Engaging with these real materials, the ones that Mom and Dad use, have more meaning then the toy kitchen items. They respect the materials more because they understand they hold a greater value and also because they belong to you. It gives them the sense that they are participating in an activity that they see you doing and it makes them feel important and builds their confidence.
Allowing your child to work with these items at an early age will most likely result in an interest in cooking and participating in the kitchen. As your children gets older cooking includes many educational concepts in areas such as science and math.