Sunday, October 7, 2012

Classroom Cooking 101

I do a LOT of cooking in my classroom. I'm very fortunate to have a kitchen attached to my classroom. Some teachers find cooking to be a daunting task, but here are some tips I've amassed over the last seven years that make things much easier! 

1. Preparation is key
Look over your recipe the night before. Make sure you have absolutely everything you need: all the ingredients, bowls, spoons, mixers, etc. It can be disastrous to get halfway through a recipe with your little ones and realize you've forgotten something important!
Here are all my supplies laid out, apples already peeled and cut!

2. Prep as much as possible before
For example, if your recipe calls for 6-7 apples peeled and sliced thin, make sure that is done before you start! You will not hold your students attention if you have to sit there and peel and slice them all in front of them! I'm lucky that my kids go to their arts classes first thing in the morning so I prep as much as possible then. I also make sure to have my recipe written out on chart paper. I like to leave blank spaces to make it interactive and so the kids can follow along and help me fill it in as we go. I also always have a student copy for them to fill out. This keeps them engaged. 
My recipe written out on chart paper and ready to go

3. Involve your students as much as possible
I already mentioned having them follow along and fill in their own recipe, but if there is mixing, measuring or pouring to be done - let them help! They take such pride in being teacher's helpers. 
one of my sweeties helps mix, while the rest follow along with their own recipes on white boards.

Our recipe after we filled it all in. The kids help sound out the missing words.

4. Take advantage of teachable moments
There is so much kids can learn from cooking. I always start by talking about recipes - what is on it? (title, ingredients, steps) What does it show us how to do? (cook or bake something) Can we skip steps? (no!) Why not? (your final product won't turn out right!) Should kids ever touch the oven? (No! This is a job for grownups, ovens get very hot and children can get hurt). 
One of the students recipe, after it's been filled in.

5. Always plan for clean up
A mess is going to be inevitable. No matter how hard you try to contain it, there will always be a mess when you're cooking with kids. My solution for this is to finish the recipe, get it in the oven, then send the kids off to do an activity while you clean. The key here is to make sure the activity is something they can do INDEPENDENTLY. They can work on it without needing your help, and you can clean up while still keeping an eye on them and making sure they are staying on track. This gives you time to sweep up crumbs, wash out dishes, pans, utensils, etc. 
My students worked on labeling an apple's parts while I cleaned up.
7. Lastly, always try to find a literary connection
For example, I always preface our apple pie baking by reading "The Apple Pie Tree." We talk about what happens to an apple tree in different seasons, and the steps the sisters when through to make their pie. Then when we are baking, the kids can make text-to-self connections. This also helps put everyone on a level playing field with what will be happening, even if they have never baked an apple pie before. Background knowledge makes a big difference in connections and cementing information in their little brains. Take advantage of it whenever you can! 
And that's it! It really can be a painless, fun experience for you and the kids! I'm currently working on a unit entitled "Kids in the Kitchen" that will be full of my favorite classroom recipes, literary and math common core connections, and more tips! I hope to have it done soon! 


  1. We love to cook in my classroom too. You are so lucky to have a kitchen you can use. I have my toaster oven at school and a burner for when we cook. I can't wait to see your unit.

  2. You are such a good teacher! I bet your kiddos LOVED this:)
    The Moffatt Girls

  3. I am looking for this unit in your TPT store.