Self-Directed Learning in the Kitchen

Self-Directed Learning in the Kitchen

One of the best “classrooms” is right in your own home … your kitchen! Planning and preparing meals with your family can support an interest in culinary and pastry arts while exposing kids to a wide variety of embedded learning opportunities. Classic subjects like math, chemistry, and humanities are readily supported in the kitchen, along with general technical skills and valuable life skills.

  • Any pastry chef will tell you about the importance of kitchen math for making great pastries, including an understanding of fractions and measurement units, and the practice of addition, subtractions, and division.
  • Lessons in chemistry are supported when young chefs learn the science behind the use of baking soda and baking powder and what happens on a molecular level to a protein molecule when heated.
  • Nutrition can be outlined by understanding which foods have carbohydrates, proteins, and/or fats. Sharing the story behind your grandmother’s delicious cookie recipe or researching the history of pancakes online supports lessons in the humanities.
  • Knives skills, operating ovens, and handling food help a young chef gain technical expertise in the kitchen.
  • And life skills to carry on into adulthood can be explored, like how to plan, organize, and purchase ingredients.

A kitchen is a mini-lab and learning space. It is a place to not only expand and support interests but also to connect with family and to appreciate where your food comes from and how it was prepared. There are plenty of recipes to be found online, in books, or handed down from family members from which you can select. Just follow your child’s tastes and food preferences and let it lead the way towards learning in the kitchen!

Example questions and online learning opportunities:

Why does bread turn brown in the toaster?

Why do cookies spread?

What is a carbohydrate?

Can we make s’mores indoors?


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