Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How do you Entertain Your Kids While You Cook?

Cooking with real, whole foods can take a little more time in the kitchen.  It can be difficult to find this time when you have young children who need some help entertaining themselves.  Most of the time my kids are pretty good about entertaining themselves, but occasionally they need some encouragement.  My children are almost 3 and 5 now, and I thought I would share with you some of the ways I entertain them while I cook and prep food.  I don't have suggestions for older kids, but I would love to hear yours, so please comment.

1. Picture Books on Tape.  Our library has loads of books on tape, so I throw one in our kitchen CD player for us to listen to while I cook.  They sit at the table and flip the pages (the CD has a little noise that tells your child when to turn the page).  We also talk about the books that we listen to once the story finishes.  
Audio Story Books from the Library

2. Mighty Mind Tiles.  Both of my kids LOVE these cards.  My daughter started doing them at 2 with our help, but now that she is 3, she can do them herself.  The cards are of graduated difficulty so a younger child can do the first cards while an older child can do the latter cards.  You can also buy additional tile sets and cards.  
Mighty Mind Cards and Tiles

3. Ask them what they are going to play with, giving them two options.  I find that asking my kids, "Are you going to play with your legos or the marble blocks?" a much more effective way to get them busy playing something than telling them "Go play with your legos."  The question format makes them feel like they have more control over what they are doing while I am cooking. 

4. Let them help.  I touched on this on in my 20 ways I get my kids to eat healthy post.  There are many ways that your kids can help you cook, even if you are someone who prefers they don't touch the food.  They can use the salad spinner, get things for you, read the recipe for you, etc.

5. Laptop Time.  My kids really like to play the games and watch the videos on sesamestreet.com and the various PBS Kids websites like Sid the Science Kid, Clifford and Curious George.  So I will bring the laptop in the kitchen while my son navigates around the website watching videos and playing games.  I don't like them spending too much time on the computer though, so I set the kitchen buzzer for 30 minutes to keep us both accountable.  When it goes off screen time is over.    

6. Play-doh.  This once can get messy, but if I happen to need a little more prep-time than usual, I get out the play-doh for them and they have a lot of fun.  Sometimes I will let them borrow some of my kitchen stuff so they can "cook" their play-doh.
Play-Doh Time

7. Craft Bucket
One of their favorites is when we get the craft supplies out. They cut, glue, assemble and draw while I cook.  What I really like about the craft bucket is that they are using their imagination to make things and we can talk about those things while I am cooking.
Craft Supplies

That is my list, but I know there are many more ways to entertain kids, what are your favorite ways?

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Anonymous said...

Great ideas!

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