Learning Is Everywhere
We’re learning in the kitchen!
Lots of fun ideas and activities for families!
Each month offers activities families can do together in a variety of settings. The activities within the Learning is Everywhere Calendar and on the website are aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards (ELS).
These guidelines can be used to determine what infants, toddlers, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten children may know or be able to do within specific age ranges.
The Pennsylvania Early Learning Standard is referenced after each activity.
Activities for Babies
Give a clean kitchen towel to your baby to play with as you work in the kitchen. Encourage him to wave the towel, feel it in his hands, explore it with his mouth, or use it to cover a small toy on a highchair tray. If your child has difficulty grasping objects, add an extra attachment to the towel (i.e. stretchy bracelet) to help your child keep the towel in his hands. If he has a visual impairment, focus on having him cover an object and touch what it feels like with and without the towel over it. (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Let your baby share the visions and smells while you’re cooking. Let her smell the herb or spice you’re about to put in the sauce, tell her the name of the fruits and vegetables, point out shapes or colors to her, and explain what you’re doing. (Social & Emotional Development)
Activities for Toddlers
Your toddler can use foods, like crackers and slices of cheese, to build a tower. Can she make it taller by adding a layer? What happens to the tower if she eats a layer? If your toddler has difficulty building a tower vertically, try making shapes or patterns on the table horizontally. Instead of food, she could use blocks like Lego Duplo and build a tower and try to make color patterns. (Mathematics Thinking and Expression)
Make fun instruments from pots and pans with wooden spoons, or two saucepan lids for cymbals. Together, play a song. Can you play a loud song or a soft song? What types of sounds are made if she bangs hard on the pan? Does banging on the top of a pan make a different sound than tapping on the side of the pan? (Creative Thinking & Expression)
Explore a set of kitchen tools – strainer, turkey baster, potholder, garlic press, spatula, slotted spoon, rolling pin, etc. After your child has explored the tool, place the item in a bag, and have her reach in and try to guess which one she feels. Ask her to describe what she feels—is it hard or soft? Is it cold or warm? Is it big or little? Does it move? (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Activities for Preschoolers
While your preschooler helps set the table, help him count the number of plates needed. How many forks will be needed? How many different ways can he fold a napkin? Does one person get a tall glass and another person a small cup? Once your preschooler has finished setting the table, have him assist with the meal. Encourage him to look at the recipe and say the numbers as you point to them and count the steps to make the meal. (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Have your preschooler close her eyes and guess what different smells are. Items to smell might be vanilla (extract), lemons, oranges, apples. Have her open her eyes and smell them again. Do they smell different or the same? What happens if she smells two things at once? Next time you fix a meal, see if she can guess what you’re cooking by its smell. (Scientific Thinking and Technology)
Explore a set of kitchen tools – strainer, turkey baster, potato masher, potholder, garlic press, spatula, slotted spoon, rolling pin, etc. Have your preschooler guess what the items is for, then tell him. After he has looked over the items, place one in a bag, and have him reach in and try to guess which one he feels. Ask him to describe what he feels—is it hard or soft? Is it cold or warm? Is it big or little? Does it move? Is it made of wood or plastic? How does he know? (Approaches to Learning through Play)
While following a recipe, have your kindergartner help you prepare food. Help him read the information from the recipe that he recognizes (like the numbers for the measurements, quantities and temperature), then have him match the number on the measuring cup (like 1 cup), or count out the number needed (like 2 eggs), or identify the number on the oven (350 degrees). (Mathematics Thinking and Expression)
While grocery shopping, help your kindergartner select a special food that you both can prepare later. Talk about what he is selecting and how it will be prepared and eaten. Provide him with his own shopping bag to carry home the item, and then when home, together you can use the item to make a snack or be included in a meal. Check out our list of child-friendly recipes for helpful hints. (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Explore a set of kitchen tools – strainer, turkey baster, potato masher, potholder, garlic press, spatula, slotted spoon, rolling pin, etc. Have your kindergartner guess what the items is for, then tell her. After she has looked over the items, place one in a bag, and have her reach in and try to guess which one she feels. Ask her to describe what she feels—is it hard or soft? Is it cold or warm? Is it big or little? Does it move? Is it made of wood or plastic? How does she know? (Approaches to Learning through Play)
Wash the Germs!
Want to make germs disappear? Try this!
- Put a small amount of hand lotion or petroleum jelly on hands. This represents body oils.
- Sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon. This represents germs.
- Then have your child try to wash with just cold water (no soap), and…
- Then just warm water (no soap).
What happens when you wash with cold water and no soap?
What happens when you wash with warm water and no soap?
Now add soap and warm water, then scrub, making sure all parts of the hands are washed—the backs of hands, and in between fingers, etc. Watch the germs disappear!
Sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday while washing. When the song is finished, it’s time to rinse!
January is National Mentoring Month
Do you know a grandparent, a special teacher, a pastor, a friend or neighbor? Any of these people can be a mentor! A mentor is someone who is willing to take another under his or her wing. These mentors can give advice and suggestions to help another cope or improve their skills. They can also show how they do something, and provide encouragement and support.
Mentors can can be anyone who provides guidance and support as we make our way through the easy and difficult, times. For families with children, having a mentor who has “been there and done that” can provide an example or a shoulder to lean on when needed.
Can you be a mentor to a family or child? Know what you can offer another. Mentors build committed, trusting relationships. They listen. They offer understanding and respect. They help others overcome challenges and disappointments and celebrate successes.
What can you provide as a mentor? While mentoring can be as informal as sharing a conversation and support with a friend while at an early care provider, or as formal as volunteering as a “Big” in a Big Brother Big Sister program, decide how involved you would like to become. It’s not about the answers. To be a mentor, you don’t need all the answers, and you don’t need to be an expert. The purpose of a mentor isn’t to provide answers, but to provide support, understanding and respect. Sure, share your experiences if asked, but your most valued role is that of a friend.
Could you benefit from a mentor? Would you like to have a support system? Do you often wish your family lived closer, or were more supportive? Would you like to have friends that you could turn to for advice? If so, you may benefit from having a mentor.
- Do you want a different way of doing something? A mentor may provide helpful suggestions, tips, examples and supports for finding and learning new ways of doing things, like coping with demands of a new baby, the “terrible two” stage, or balancing work and family time.
- What kind of mentoring could you use? Would you want someone as a formal mentor—like through a program, or that one meets with you at a specific date or time —or would you want someone you could turn to every now and then on an informal basis?
How to become a mentor or find one. It’s important to consider all possibilities. A person you may not have originally considered could be the mentor of your dreams. Keep open to who might benefit from your support and guidance.
- Check out our list of resources below.
- Ask others. Ask your child care provider, friends, church members, pediatrician, etc. if they know of someone who might be a good mentor.
- Look around for examples of someone you’d like to learn from. Is there a fellow parent who demonstrates a particular skill you admire? A friend who always seems to know what to do or say? A teacher who seems to have more than enough patience? Ask that person to share with you how he or she does it!
- Reach out to others. See someone you think could use a helping hand or support? Start small with a way for the other person to identify with you. “I remember when my son was going through that stage. Two year olds can be challenging!”
- Strengthening Families
- Pennsylvania Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania
- Family Promise
- Arsenal Family & Children’s Center (Pittsburgh)
- The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania
- National Fatherhood Initiative
- United Way of Pennsylvania: Many local United Way offices have resources available within specific regions.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: Find a local chapter in your community.
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle
The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna F. Cook
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub by Angela Shelf Medearis
Lunch by Denise Fleming
Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne
The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up by Mollie Katzen
January Songs and Rhymes
Get ready to belt out some tunes! Engage your child in songs and rhymes and learning while in the kitchen.
The words to the songs can be printed, or you can visit your local library for CDs with the music.
Songs and nursery rhymes to celebrate being in the kitchen:
- In the Kitchen
- Bread For My Baby-O
- How the Meatballs Roll In
- I’m a Little Teapot
- I’m a Nut
Special winter themed songs:
- First Snowfall
What’s YOUR Story?
You know you have a story to tell about what quality education has done for your child, your family or your community–We want to hear it!
Tell about your child’s favorite PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start or Keystone STAR teacher, administrator, or classroom. Share all the great things your child has learned by participating in a quality early learning classroom. Let everyone know how important it is for your family to have access to quality early learning!