For me, back-to-school means back to the kitchen. It's not just that the cooler temperatures make me start thinking soups and apple pies (although they do), but that as school gets up and rolling, I'm always reminded that so much of our at-home learning takes place behind our counter or at the stove. I love to cook with my kids, and although it's too soon to say whether any of the four have the kind of personality that sees a recipe for Bacon Candy and thinks "I have to try that," I'm determined that none of them turn out like the college babysitter we had some years ago, standing bewildered in the kitchen when confronted with a pan and a box of macaroni and cheese.
So cooking lessons are frequent—but as my oldest progressed from circle time into reading and math, I realized that the kitchen offers the opportunity to teach about more than just food. When you're cooking together, lessons in everything from cooperation to fractions just naturally arise, and with a little forethought, you can teach nearly anything to kids who are so excited to be using the mixer or scooping the flour that they don't even realize there's learning going on.

When kitchen school is communal, the lessons are social: take turns, follow directions and accept that not everybody gets to pour in the chocolate chips. But when I'm only working with one kid, I can add lessons geared to each sous chef. The younger kids (I have two 4-year-olds) are still learning the basics of foods and nutrition, while my first-grader is learning to read simple recipes and grasp the concept of fractions and my 9-year-old likes to see the science of baking in action. Nearly any recipe offers an opportunity for a little home school kitchen curriculum, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Kitchen lessons for your pre-schoolers: what's inside a chicken nugget? 


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