It may seem as if babies and even toddlers are too young to begin learning about the complex world of science. Of course, many of us associate the idea of science with many of the more complicated themes within the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology, which present significant difficulties for full-fledged adults, let alone children under the age of four.
However, learning about basic science doesn’t necessarily need to include an overview of molecular bonds or the theory of gravity. Instead, you can present simpler concepts that even toddlers will understand; and, in fact, you can do this all within one of the most interesting rooms of the house – the kitchen! If you want to explore the wide world of science with your toddler together this year, don’t hesitate to test these fun activities within your very own kitchen.
Fun with Feeling the Foods
When we cook in the kitchen, as parents, we rarely take notice of the appearance, texture, or shape of the foods that are being prepared for a family dinner. Instead, we are largely focused on the eventual outcome: a delicious meal that will satisfy everyone sitting around the dinner table.
For children, however, these moments of preparation can provide an extremely useful learning experience. To be sure, a variety of different foods that go into making a family meal have bizarre textures and shapes before the cooking process; and, in some cases, they may have different tastes as well. And these different attributes can be both wildly entertaining for children, and a slight insight into the scientific world.
The next time you cook a meal for the family, bring your child into the kitchen and let him or her feel all of the ingredients that go into the mix. Ask him or her what the different foods feel and smell like, and what shapes they are in. Whenever appropriate, ask your child to even taste the meal as it is created and provide descriptions. This fun and basic activity will help your child understand the differences among various food ingredients and how the process of heating and other methods of cooking can change their physical properties.
Try Making Some Music
Most parents take steps before the arrival of their newborn to “baby-proof” their house, which generally includes a full overhaul of the kitchen as well as many of the items within the lower cabinets. To be sure, if there are drawers and spaces within reach of babies and toddlers, parents often make sure to remove all sharp objects and anything else that could possibly cause harm.
But while you may wish to remove knives and other dangerous utensils, consider leaving pots and pans, wooden spoons, and other safe cooking devices. Then, when cooking a meal, invite your child into the kitchen to rummage around in the lower cabinets and shelf space where these utensils remain, and ask him or her to make some music while you cook. He or she can bang around on the pots and pans, and tap a beat using the wooden spoons and other utensils. When doing this, ask your children to notice the differences they may hear in the sounds they make; for example, is there a difference between the sounds made by hitting a plastic cup and a steel pot? Or between a wooden spoon and a plastic spatula? This fun kitchen activity will help your child begin to understand the basic differences in sound, and how the makeup of an object contributes to the creation of varying noises.
Mixing Up the Science
Your children don’t have to solely sit on the sidelines while you make the meals. Instead, you can let them partake in the action by grabbing a mixing bowl and helping you stir ingredients. And, in fact, this can provide a significant learning experience that helps them understand the science of mixing.
For example, if you are mixing eggs with milk, let them begin mixing and point out how the colors change from white to off-white and yellow. Or if you are making a salad dressing using oil and vinegar, show them how the two substances can be combined with one another but will not mix together to create one homogenous substance. While observing this occurring, ask your children why they believe this happens, or why they assume different substances change colors when you mix them together. Then, ask them to make guesses as to the possible colors you could produce with various liquids.
Science in the Kitchen for Babies & Toddlers
Are you ready to have some fun while teaching your babies and toddlers the very basics about science in the kitchen? If so, consider trying these few fun activities and get ready to have a blast while discovering the complexities of the world of science.