Tips and recipes for cooking with kids of all ages

Jul 7, 2020

Cooking together is one of the most fun ways for kids to engage their senses and express their creativity. In the kitchen, kids can build direct connections to the topics they learn in school, while cultivating a sense of independence and self-confidence.

6 Skills kids can learn from cooking

Cooking is more than just a fun way for kids to engage their senses and play with movement. They can also learn important skills including:

  1. Math: Young learners can practice counting ingredients and identifying their shapes, while more advanced learners can work with fractions, volume, and area as they work through recipes on their own.
  2. Science: Young learners can engage their senses and hone their observation skills. Older kids can understand how rice absorbs water and salt penetrates food through osmosis, while teens can learn how onions caramelize via the Maillard reaction.
  3. Independence: Kids can do a surprising amount of work on their own in the kitchen—if we let them. Giving your learner age-appropriate responsibilities in the kitchen will build a sense of independence and confidence, as well as teach them to take kitchen safety seriously.
  4. Motor skills: Cooking is a fun way for young learners to develop fine motor skills. Younger kids can start with stirring, rolling, and squeezing; older kids can practice their fine motor skills with precision tasks.
  5. Culture and history: Making and sharing food together is a great way for children of all ages to learn words in different languages, explore other cultures, and share their connection to their own culture.
  6. Creativity: Kids will love expressing their creativity through decorating a pizza with the toppings of their choice, and older kids might even want to try inventing new recipes.

Outschool offers live online classes to help learners of all ages explore their passion for cooking.

Motor skills and sensory exploration (ages 3–6)

Cooking is a time for young learners (ages 3–6) to explore their senses, develop motor skills, and engage in creative play. Invite kids this age to cook alongside you. Together you’ll work on:

  • Making a schedule that includes time for handwashing, reading the recipe together, prepping ingredients, eating and sharing, and cleaning up.
  • Introducing kitchen and ingredient vocabulary.
  • Exploring all five senses by smelling and touching every ingredient, noticing shapes and colors, hearing cooking sounds, and—of course—tasting the finished product.
  • Developing motor skills by rolling pizza dough and shaping Japanese rice balls.
  • Counting the number of toppings on a mini pizza.
  • Practicing social skills including collaboration and taking turns.
  • Making kid-size foods.

Live online cooking classes for ages 3–6

Outschool offers fun, affordable live online cooking classes tailored to learners ages 3–6.

Developing confidence in the kitchen (ages 7–12)

Older kids can take the lead on simple cooking projects that will allow them practice their math and reading skills. Kids ages 7–12 can work on:

  • Reading kid-friendly recipes aloud and following instructions step by step.
  • Using fine motor skills to assemble pigs in a blanket.
  • Measuring different types of ingredients on their own to learn about volume and fractions.
  • Practicing reading and writing skills by making a vocabulary list of “tasting words” they can use to describe how foods taste.Developing confidence with safe usage of the stove and oven by making macaroni and cheese.

Live online cooking classes for ages 7–12

Outschool offers fun, affordable live online cooking classes tailored to learners ages 7-12.

Cooking and science (ages 13–18)

All learners can experience the transformation of baking, but teens and tweens can really use their science skills to dive into the hows and whys. Teens will also enjoy:

Live online cooking classes for ages 13–18

Outschool offers fun, affordable live online cooking classes tailored to learners ages 13-18.

3 Tips for cooking with kids

Cooking together is fun for both kids and adults. Make the most of your time together with these tips.

  1. Read the recipe together. Instead of telling kids what to do in the kitchen, let them read the recipe out loud. For younger learners, use kid-friendly recipes with pictures and walk through them together. For more advanced readers, find age-appropriate cookbooks and ask them to read the recipe aloud step by step. Reading directions together before cooking and as you begin each step is a great way for your learner to practice working through directions step by step.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Cooking together is a time for kids to share and think for themselves. Encourage them by asking lots of questions, such as: What do you think will happen to these grains of rice after we cook them in water: Will they get bigger or smaller? What shape does food remind you of? Is this food similar to something that we eat at home? What does this ingredient smell like? If you made this again, what would you change?
  3. Forget perfectionism. Remind kids (and adults!) that it’s okay if you make a mess, or if your meal doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Let kids know that cooking is an experiment, and even professional chefs experience kitchen disasters. Choose a time to cook together when you both feel relaxed, and don’t rush the process.

About Outschool

Outschool is a marketplace of live online classes for kids (ages 3-18). Learners can safely learn and connect with teachers over live video chat. From math and music to filmmaking, coding, writing, and baking, the small-group online format supports all learner types at any level. Classes start at $10.

How Outschool Works

Discover thousands of classes and camps on your learner's favorite topics.

Safely learn from home and connect with peers over live video chat.

Boost your child's learning and build new skills with vetted teachers.


With thousands of options for classes, camps, and tutors, learners are inspired to connect with inspiring teachers, build new skills, develop new passions, and forge new friendships from home.