Kitchen tasks suited to your children

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2001

For children, eating ranks near the top with playing as favorite activities.

Take advantage of your child's interest in eating to help him learn more about food.

Working in the kitchen with a parent or alone can help children develop useful life skills such as planning and organizing as well as enhance their motor skills and self-esteem.

It may also encourage fussy eaters to try new foods more readily.

Tailor activities for your child to their development levels.

To give you an idea of appropriate tasks for different age groups, check out the following guidelines:

All ages:

Wash hands with hot, soapy water before beginning work in the kitchen.

Wash hands, utensils and counters after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood and before handling other foods.

Make sure perishable foods are not out of refrigeration for more than two hours.

Keep kitchen clean.

3-Year-Olds

Wash fruits and vegetables.

Peel bananas.

Stir batter.

Slice soft foods with a table or butter knife (bananas, cooked potatoes).

Pour.

Get cans from low cabinets.

4- to 5-Year-Olds

Grease pans.

Open packages.

Set table with instruction.

Shape dough.

Snip herbs for salads or cooking.

Wash and tear lettuce.

Place toppings on pizza or snacks.

6- to 8-Year-Olds

Help plan a meal.

Make a salad.

Find ingredients in cabinet or spice rack.

Shred cheese or vegetables.

Measure ingredients.

Use microwave, blender or toaster oven with instruction.

Roll and shape cookies.

9- to 12-Year Olds

Depending on previous experience, plan and prepare an entire meal.