Science in the kitchen

Aside from the obvious baking and cooking, the kitchen offers a store of learning opportunities.

Smart parents know that finding ways to occupy children in the kitchen can be the key to getting the cooking done, but smarter parents know that the kitchen is a science laboratory in its own right. Aside from the obvious baking and cooking, the kitchen offers a store of learning opportunities.

  • Boxes: Grietjie shares a tip that she uses to keep her children busy while she cooks. She takes an empty cereal, spaghetti or rusk box and cuts it into a home-made jigsaw puzzle for her children to put together while she cooks.
  • Measuring tools: Toss your measuring cups into a bath of water and ask your children which containers hold the most amount of water. Bake muffins and let them do the measuring. Introduce them to the concept of temperature by letting them set the temperature of the oven.
  • Geometry: Make a shape tray with various containers from around your kitchen. Keep a look out for posters featuring shapes to place nearby. Ask your little ones to identify different shapes in the kitchen.
  • Chemistry: Mix together bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to get a volcanic explosion.
  • Taste trays: Place different white powders (talcum powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda, sugar) in small bowls and get your child to try to identify them by smell and touch, and failing these, by taste. Do the same with a variety of clear liquids – water, vinegar, bleach, soda water – but this time discuss why you shouldn’t taste something to identify it unless you know it’s safe to do so. Have other trays of items with sour, sweet, salty and bitter tastes.
  • Mind Your Math: Many mathematical devices are already available in the home. These include metre sticks and measuring tapes as well as the standard 30-centimeter ruler; scales for measuring weight, measuring cups for capacity, thermometers for measuring the temperature, and clocks for learning to tell time.
  • Time Zones: This tip comes from my friend Lara who has family in different parts of the world. When she found good quality clocks on sale, she bought five and she lined them up on the kitchen wall and set each clock to a different time zone. It’s a very visual way for children to learn about time zones and to calculate time differences between places. Remember to set one clock to Greenwich Mean Time.

By Umm Zakariyya

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