Make the Most of your Mini-Me

By, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Kids love hands on activities, especially if they mimic the things they observe adults doing. Hand most children a cell phone, and they know EXACTLY what to do with it. Observe children at pretend play in a housekeeping center and you have a pretty good idea what goes on in their home!

Since the holiday season may find you in the kitchen more, why don’t you let your child really cook instead of just pretending?   A child learns math as he measures ingredients in a measuring cup. She will strengthen her upper body while rigorously stirring the cookie dough.  Visual motor skills will be challenged as he carefully pours batter into the muffin tins. And, just imagine the feeling of accomplishment your child will have when delivering those baked goods to friends and family.

While you may dread the inevitable spilled flour and extra cleanup, remember that your child will find learning to use the broom and dust pan just as fascinating as cooking!  So, break out your spatulas and cookie cutters and get baking!

But, if the thought of your youngster in the kitchen just adds to your holiday stress, consider setting up a special cooking station nearby.  Try to use as many real life materials as possible:  flour sifter, garlic press, kitchen tongs, an array of spoons and measuring cups.  Substitute items like cotton balls, seashells, spools and buttons for their “ingredients”. Provide several size serving utensils to allow pouring and moving the “ingredients” – great fun for their little hands.  Still lots of fun and less clean-up!

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