Younger children mainly engage with tasting, knowing the names of different foods, cutting and holding them. Simple cooking ingredients are combined together for the experience of mixing and transformation (e.g. adding water to flour and making a sticky mixture).
For older children, the cooking area is structured to promote independence. Ingredients are stored where children can reach them and are clearly labelled. Recipes are laid out so that children can follow them, first with adult help, and then independently. Children gain experience of how to gradually add liquids, to stir, beat, and fold ingredients together etc.
Cooking is an accessible way for children to find out about different cultures and traditions, and develop positive attitudes about diversity. By taking part in preparing and clearing up after meals, children have a strong experience of living in a community, sharing out work and making a positive contribution to the smooth running of the day.
The whole cooking process is important, from the decision to choose a recipe, to the washing up at the end, sharing food (or taking it home) and reflecting on the processes of change.
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