2012 is all about intentionality at the MacPherson house… and this month, we’re focusing on intentional DOING.  And that means instead of just being, I’m going to focus on intentionally doing things all month.  Playing.  Talking.  Reading.  Cooking.  Working.  DOING things together.  So, as part of DOING month, I’m going to be putting together a series of lists that give you easy ideas on how to intentionally do things.  Enjoy!

15 Things Your Preschoolers Can Do to Help in the Kitchen

1.  Cut and chop.  Yes, I let my kids use knives.  My 4-year-old cuts strawberries using a plastic cake knife and my 6-year-old cuts things like green beans and tomatoes using a regular paring knife.

2. Fetch ingredients. Send your kids to the fridge to get milk or to the pantry to get sugar.

3.  Read recipes. If they can’t read yet, have them find letters, point out numbers and guess at what ingredients the dish calls for.

4.  Grow herbs. Plant basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro in small pots and let your kids grow and water their own herbs.  Then send them to go pick what you need for recipes.

5.  Crack eggs. Yes, it can be precarious to let little hands crack eggs, but if you have them practice in a separate bowl from your other ingredients… and are okay with throwing away a few eggs if there’s an accident, cracking eggs can be a lot of fun for preschoolers.

6.  Empty the dishwasher. Let them sort silverware or put away everything that’s unbreakable.

7.  Add spices. Who cares if there’s a little extra cinnamon in your Snickerdoodles or vanilla in your pancakes?  Let your kids add spices at their own discretion.

8.  Decide on optional ingredients.  Let them decide if you add mushrooms to the soup or corn to the salsa.

9.  Wash produce. Pull a chair up to the sink and let your kids help you rinse lettuce or wash apples.

10. Choose menus. Give your kids cookbooks with photos and let them pick recipes that they’d like to have for dinner.

11.  Put away the groceries.  Have your kids arrange the cereal on a low shelf or put all of their snacks in an easy-to-reach snack basket.

12.  Make sandwiches. Let them spread peanut butter or stack their favorite toppings on a sandwich.

13.  Toss Salads. Give your kid the official title of “salad tosser” and you’ll be assured a well-mixed salad.

14.  Clear the table. Again, it can be a bit risky to put your dishes in the hands of a four-year-old but if you coach them on how to be careful, they can become excellent at moving dishes from table to sink.

15.  Wrapping things up. Let your kids wrap corn in tin foil before you put it on the grill or put leftover fruit salad into baggies after dinner is over.

Question for you: How do your kids help in the kitchen?