Here's a great game for kids to play in a restaurant while waiting for your food to arrive. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle on it, as large as you can fit on. Draw a large cross to divide the circle into quarters, then draw further lines to divide the circle into equal eights. Now the fun begins!
Pass the paper around the table and each player takes one of the 1/8th slices, drawing in their own pizza topping ideas. Keep passing the paper around until all eight pizza slices have been filled with different toppings.
There are no rules - you can draw in traditional pizza toppings, such as different meats (pepperoni, ham or spicy beef) and fresh vegetables (slices of peppers, mushrooms, sweetcorn or tomatoes). Alternatively draw in other patterns such as national flags, or why not put slugs, snails and worms on your pizza?!
You can add an element of surprise by folding the paper and only letting each player see the slice that they are decorating. When the pizza is unfolded at the end you can reveal the completed pizza for the first time.
Your little ones simply adore copying what you do, and when your working in the kitchen, nothing will make them happier than to play with the same kitchen implements that you use - wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks and bowls. Of course, they don't need to mess up your lovely kitchen utensils, although nylon and wooden ones would be perfectly safe for them, you can also buy whole sets of kitchen utensils from any toy store.
Pretend kitchen play is a valuable pastime for all kids. At a physical level they are learning about materials and honing their fine motor skills as they drop ingredients into bowls and stir them. They are also growing their understanding of how food is prepared, learning what is involved and about where their meals come from.
As they grow older you can move from pretend utensils to real ones, and from play food to real 'dried foods' (such as pasta, dried fruit, cereal etc.) and on to genuine cooking. Next time you are in a supermarket, take a look in the home baking aisle and you will find all manner of easy foods that you can whip up with the kids.
Here are some simply foods that you can buy from the supermarket and which even the youngest children can 'cook':-
- 'Shake and bake' fairy cakes - just add milk, put into cake cases and bake
- Home bake scone mix - just add water (and raisins if you like), mix, roll, cut and back
- Home made muffin mix - just add a little oil, water and an egg, put into cases and bake
- Fresh croissant or pain au chocolate - sometimes difficult to find in the supermarket (try the chiller cabinets where ready made pastry is), fresh dough comes in a tube; open, shape the pastries onto a baking tray and bake
- Pizza - buy a fresh base and spread with your favourite toppings; start with a plain dough and add passata and cheese, or buy a Margherita and add your own flavours. Cook as per instructions
All these products can be prepared in around 5 minutes and baked in around 20, and can form a part of the children's real meals. Try to cook with your children at least once a week and they will have a whale of a time!