I am always looking for ways to up the interest level in the kitchen for kids. My girls have been cooking with me from the get-go. When they were babies I would pop them up on the counter in their bumbo chairs and talk to them when I was cooking. It was like a poorly executed cooking show with only one audience member who couldn’t even sample the creations.
As the girls have gotten older I have taught them various skills in the kitchen and given them increased responsibilities around mealtimes. Admittedly, this is for somewhat selfish reasons: I look forward to the time when they are able to execute meals from start to finish and I can pass some of that daily responsibility over to them. No matter how much I might love cooking (and I do!), making dinner every night is still a chore. Therefore it is in my own best interest to try and make cooking meals a fun experience for the girls, and not have them view it as a chore.
I have seen a lot of videos floating featuring pancake art — using a squirt bottle to make beautiful breakfast creations. My oldest has been making pancake breakfasts for us for about a year now (she is 8). We keep a pancake mix that we like on hand and she has now memorized the recipe. Making Sunday morning breakfast for the family is a task she looks forward to and we love to see how much excitement and pride she has in executing this meal.
After I saw some of these pancake art videos, I realized that it would be very easy to make the girls a pancake batter squirt bottle (I simply modified the top to a squirt bottle by cutting it a little lower so a thicker batter could easily pass through it) and it would be fun for them to make shapes and designs while cooking the pancakes. Of course, the girls love it and making pancakes is exponentially more fun now.
I love finding different ways to make cooking fun. This is a great one and it is really easy to execute. Pancakes are not always the most nutritious breakfast (although I have found some great healthier recipes) but Sunday morning is the only time we are together in the morning as a family and it is special to have a “treat.”
One final note – to provide the most balanced account of this particular pancake making morning…Occasionally making pancakes is a little too much fun now. Fights have been known to break out over whose turn it is to make the next batch. Occasionally we get pouty faces. This morning my oldest “quit” in the middle of cooking and hid in a corner. Of course three minutes later it was over and everyone was back “in”, but lest you think it was a picture perfect morning where mom and dad got to lounge around drinking coffee and reading the Times, here is the proof otherwise.