Cooking with Children
Keeping Children Safe whilst Cooking
Preparing and cooking food presents excellent learning opportunities for young children: among other things, they experiment with maths (numbers, weight, capacity etc) and they learn about the changes that happen when you mix ingredients and apply heat or cold (understanding the world – the world).
Before you Start
Before you start cooking activities with children you need to do two things – first you need to involve them in a risk assessment of the kitchen and secondly you need to support them to risk assess the activity for themselves.
One way I find useful when engaging children in risk assessments is to draw a picture of the room, including the danger spots. Encourage them to think about things such as...
• Oven with hot surfaces (colour red for danger);
• Kettle with hot sides and a trailing cord;
• Floor with puddles of water;
• Fridge with medicine inside;
• Vegetable or fruit rack with lots of things that might choke;
• Cupboard and drawer units when the doors are open etc.
By involving the children you are enabling them to start taking control of their own risk assessments. This does not mean they are capable of risk assessing for themselves yet, but they are learning the techniques they will need for later life.
Our Minded Children’s Favourite Recipes
• Anything associated with cakes / buns / icing etc;
• Making their own pizzas, choosing and adding ingredients;
• Making fruit smoothies / threading fruit on a kebab stick;
• Making fruit salad after watching the song ‘Fruit Salad’ by the Wiggles on You Tube;
• Finding out about food for multicultural festivals and trying some... etc.
Kitchen Risk Assessment when Cooking with Children
It is not a requirement of the EYFS to write your risk assessments any more – but you might find it useful to have some written risk assessments in a file to discuss with your inspector especially if, for example, you are doing a cooking activity on the day of your inspection. Once written, it is important that risk assessments are treated as working documents and updated regularly. A ‘cooking with children’ risk assessment might include -
• Chopping boards (cross contamination) – make a list of the different coloured boards and encourage the children to work out what they are used for and why. Draw them on a chart and laminate to display in the kitchen...
o Red – raw meat;
o Blue – raw fish;
o Yellow – cooked meat;
o Green – salad and fruit;
o Blue – vegetables;
o White – bakery goods.
• Cupboards / drawers (bumps) – explain to the children that if they are left open they might be bumped etc. show them how to safely close cupboards and drawers;
• Floor (trips and slips) – show the children where you keep the mop and dustpan and brush so they can help you to keep the floor clean and dry;
• Food (cross contamination) – teach children a hand washing song and discuss when they need to wash their hands during the day. Make a poster together to display by the sink;
• Hot oven (burning) – discuss the heat that comes out of the oven and remind children about wearing oven gloves and checking with you before touching it. Do some hot and cold experiments with water to explain what you mean;
• Raw eggs (poisoning) – remind the children that it is not safe to lick bowls or utensils which have been in contact with raw eggs. Talk about eggs in general and look at different sizes, shapes and colours; decorate eggs with the children, showing them how fragile the shells are;
• Stools / chairs to stand on (falls) – encourage the children to take responsibility for their own safety by making sure they are standing securely on their stool or chair if needed.
• Utensils including knives and scissors (cuts) – teach safe use and remind children about the dangers of knives. Do some experiments under close supervision to see how sharp knives and other utensils can be when cutting paper or food.
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