|Cooking is as natural in family child care as it is in your home. I involve the children as much as I can in the preparation, serving, and cleaning up of our meals and snacks.
When we cook together, I put out everything we need on the table and give each child a turn to pour in the ingredients, stir, and observe what's going on. We talk a lot about what we are doing: measuring the water, cutting the bread in half, mixing the tuna with mayonnaise, whipping the egg whites, spreading the jelly, etc.
This way, the children learn new words and how to talk about what they are doing. They are also learning math and science concepts. When they set out napkins for each person, they learn about correspondence. They also see how the ingredients change when we add milk or take something out of the oven.
The children like to help set the table at lunch and for snack. They practice pouring their own milk and juice from small pitchers. As soon as the babies start to grab a spoon, I let them feed themselves. I try to give them finger foods such as dry cereal and crackers so they can do things for themselves. I serve food family-style so that everyone can participate in this group activity.