About this time of the summer, you start seeing articles about how to help your child hang onto math and reading skills over the hot, lazy months. Spending time in the kitchen is the perfect solution. Here are five fun kitchen activiites, perfect for a summer Shabbat.
I’m with Grandma’s Briefs blogger Lisa about all the wonderful reasons to bake with your children or grandkids — from reading recipes to measuring to learning fractions to sequencing.
Of her eight top reasons to encourage kitchen time together, my three favorites are:
- Encourages creativity
- Fun for different ages to work together
- Natural time to tell family stories about favorite recipes
Shabbat goodies for kids to make
In the summer, we can weave all these extras – creativity, multi-age fun, family stories — into assembling a special, all-hands Shabbat dinner.
So here are 5 ideas for summer foods that are perfect for little hands.
- Start with fresh fruit: After you say blessings over candles, wine, and challah, take the time for a natural, quick appetizer. A small bowl of mixed blueberries and strawberries topped with three banana slices will work. Ask the little ones to wash the blueberries. If they’re old enough, they can slice bananas with a butter knife. Older children can carefully hull the strawberries.
- Prepare a visual veggie feast: With summer’s bounty, there’s nothing more beautiful than a plate full of fresh veggies: cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, radishes, celery. An adult can do the little bit of cutting needed, while the kids wash and arrange the veggies on a plate.
- Make zucchini sticks: This will be a joint activity that involves lots of tactile sensations and sequencing – and uses one of those summer veggies that is plentiful and inexpensive. Follow (or modify, as desired) this recipe for baked zucchini sticks. The idea is to create three separate bowls: one with cut zucchini slices, a second with beaten egg, and a third with bread crumbs. The kids dip the sticks into egg, then into bread crumbs. It’s fun and messy and delicious!
- Soup for dinner: Imagine the treat of having matzah ball soup as your main course on Friday night? Make your own matzah balls or buy a matzah ball mix. Once you make it up and chill it for a bit, you’ve got another messy, tactile experience for your children (probably 4 and older). They can place the balls on a plate before you put them into the soup to cook. Want something a little heartier? Add chopped chicken to the pot.
- Add dessert: Even if you don’t usually serve dessert, an extra sweet touch gives you something to linger over, something to mark the evening as Shabbat. How about a simple three-step parfait made from layers of things everyone likes? The kids can scoop chocolate pudding into little bowls, sprinkle with 8 or 10 (yup, make them count them out!) chocolate chips, and one vanilla wafer or pirouette-type cookie stuck vertically in the pudding. Or give them fruited yogurt to spoon out in a thin layer, top with some kind of crunchy granola or other dry cereal, and finish with another thin layer of the yogurt. A graham cracker square can complete this treat.
Of course, modify the assembly instructions for these based on the age of your child. Count out eight berries. Scoop out ¼ cup of chocolate pudding. Measure two tablespoon of mini-chocolate chips for the parfait. You get the idea.
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What special traditions do you have in your family to set time apart for peace and relaxation?