Cooking with my kids has been something I have done since they were just old enough to see over the counter. Not only does cooking come naturally to children but my favorite thing about working in the kitchen is that every subject can be wrapped into one lesson. The homeschooler can teach history, culture, math, science, and even art through cooking. It is an easy, fun and successful way to get an all in one lesson done right from the heart of your home!
While we have always used cooking this way, it had never occurred to me to go even further and create a unit study. Recently, I was talking with my mom who mentioned a friend who had put together a unit study for her children. Amy’s unit study is fun and creative. I liked it so much that I wanted to share the idea, with her permission, with other moms or dads. So here are the steps and some tips!
Step one (Research and shopping): Have your children each research and choose a meal to cook for the family. Here they will print out a list of ingredients, schedule a day to cook and serve the meal, and schedule a day to shop. What the meal is stays secret.
Step two (Preparation): The child double checks to make sure all kitchen supplies are put aside and accessible the day before the meal is cooked. A menu is prepared for each dinner guest. This gets passed out. Along with the menu a rating chart for each part of the meal is also passed out. The meals get rated from 1-5 (5 being the best- think 5 star restaurant). For each rating a comment is made.
Step three (Cooking and Serving): Depending on the age of your children, you may have to take part in the cooking process. If your child is old enough you can just observe. The meal is cooked and served on plates for the family. The dinner table is set by the child and menus and rating cards are passed out.
Step Four: The cook gets to chill out after this and the guests get to clean up!
Step Five: Do this with each child, then create a name for the recipe and a recipe card.
Tips for a successful unit study
Tip 1: Don’t rush this. I would give each child a week. This way you can focus on one child a week and can rest some. Even moms need a breather!
Tip 3: This is a good time to teach dinner etiquette. I would suggest tipping the cook- perhaps leaving a nice treat or card for them. If you prefer to use money and teach tipping with percentages this is fine too. I did this with my older kids.
Tip 4: If they do not like it, have them keep it to themselves! I had each of my kids prepare a dessert too so that if someone didn’t like the meal the dessert would save our night. Pie equals no drama!
Tip 5: Make the night special. Perhaps put music on and dress nice. The more you add the better this unit study gets!
There are several benefits to a cooking unit study.
Here are just a few:
- Children learn how to appreciate the effort it takes to put a meal together for a family. This includes the shopping, budgeting, and preparing.
- Children learn dinner etiquette. I love taking my kids to restaurants! They get it! Awesome!
- Children learn to be fair and honest. The rating system works because it is a chance for them to see that actions and words have consequences. Rate nicely and chances are you will be rated the same.
- Math, science, reading, writing, research, budgeting, cooking, preparation, planning, art….need I say more?!
- Fun! It is a moment of pure joy to see the look on your child’s face when they are finished. It’s accomplishment, a following through, an achievement, and they have ownership. Watch them blossom!
Amy teaches college English and literature full time. She recently self published a book of poems, and her novel is currently with an editor. Amy started homeschooling her oldest when he was in first grade and now he is a junior in high school. Her other two are 9 and 12. They are eclectic and Amy has dived into several curricula. Her middle son is dyslexic so that’s a challenge in itself. They have done umbrella schools, groups and even online curriculum.