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What I Learned From Cooking Pancakes With My Toddler (Besides Patience!)

As a certified Montessori educator and someone who loves to cook, I was excited to introduce my own toddler, Luke, to this practical life skill. When we take on a big project – Heart-Shaped Strawberry and Banana Pancakes in this case – I always learn something new.

From my teacher training, I know that cooking together benefits Luke in numerous ways:

  • Using kitchen utensils requires fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to perform jobs such as pouring and stirring.
  • Being trusted with tools and techniques that he sees adults use builds his self-esteem and confidence.
  • Following the steps in a recipe introduces him to reading when we point at the steps on the recipe card from left to right.
  • Completing one task such as cracking an egg before moving on to the next step, whisking that egg, supports his executive function.

Montessori training aside, as a mom, there are a few things I learned from my most recent experience cooking banana pancakes with Luke. Perhaps you’ve absorbed some of the same lessons!

Toddler Cooking on a Learning Tower in the Kitchen

 

The Set-Up Goes A Long Way

In the Montessori approach, we call this a Prepared Environment. This simply means getting all the tools and materials together and placing them in the right spots, within reach, to support my little guy’s sense of order and to avoid fumbling for a spatula or mixing spoon while also supervising a toddler near the stove!

Many families use a learning tower to give their little one a sturdy platform at the right level for cooking. We have a learning tower as well that we use when we need to work at the kitchen counter together. 

I especially appreciated that the recipe card I was using from the Monti Kids Cooking Together Kit came with a stand. This, along with the child-friendly illustrations, made it easy for me to show Luke what step we were following.

Observation is A Powerful Guide!

I am pretty sure I avoided at least one tantrum because I watched closely to see if Luke was too challenged by any step. I noticed he was focused on how much force to use with the wooden crinkle cutter to get it through the strawberry. He wasn’t interested in holding the strawberry with one hand and cutting with the other because he was concentrating on exerting maximum effort with the cutter. As he masters the crinkle cutter, that skill will become more available to him.

As I noticed he was on the brink of getting frustrated, I offered collaboration by holding the strawberry while he cut.

This Wooden Crinkle Cutter is included in the Monti Kids Cooking Together Kit

Taste-Testing Is Part of the Adventure

Many strawberries were sampled in the making of our strawberry and banana pancakes! Adults can get frustrated by this because we focus on preparing food and then eating it. But children are sensory learners, and their fingers and mouths are the primary way they interact with new materials.

Cooking with A Toddler: Tasting Along the Way
Cooking Pancakes with a Toddler

The Finished Product Will Not Be Pinterest-Ready

Our pancakes were lumpy, but they were made with love! Seriously, I had to remind myself several times that Luke seeing the outcome of his work was the most important thing. I didn’t need to fix it or make it perfect.

Along the way we used names for the utensils (whisk! masher! spatula!), talked about the colors of the ingredients, and practiced grace and courtesy with one another while taking turns and working together.

The process of cooking with Luke included so many learning moments – for both of us! He’ll surely be asking to do it again soon.

Montessori Cooking Together Kit

encourages little ones to build skills and confidence in the kitchen as they develop healthy eating habits
$ 100
  • Wooden Stand for Recipe Cards
  • 10 Innovative Recipe Cards
  • Child-Sized Wooden Spoon, Whisk, and Masher
  • 3 Bowls for Food Prep, Small Pitcher, and Silicone Cutting Board
  • Melon Baller, Spreader, and Tongs
  • Egg Slicer
  • Wooden Crinkle Cutter
18 Months+

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