Cooking Activities for Children Ages 3 to 6

Do you include your children in the kitchen? Today we'll tell you about the best cooking activities for children between the ages of 3 and 6. These activities aren't only fun, but also help strengthen the bond between parents and children.
Cooking Activities for Children Ages 3 to 6
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Cooking with children can be stressful for parents, but it’s certainly beneficial for the little ones. In fact, although it can be chaotic, it’s also good for parents because it strengthens the bond between them and their children. So keep reading to discover some cooking activities for children ages 3 to 6.

When children learn to cook with their parents, they acquire many new skills. What’s more, it’s a good way to spend time with your children. To cook with children, you need simple recipes, tasty ingredients, and easy-to-use tools for the little ones.

When you cook with your children, try to get your little ones involved as much as possible! That way, they’ll be much more satisfied when the work is done.

On the contrary, if you do everything for them, they’ll think they can’t do things on their own. What’s more, they’ll get bored and won’t want to participate in the kitchen with you anymore. So, give them a leading role, make them feel important in the kitchen. And, above all, make them feel capable of doing it, even if you need to provide assistance.

Why are cooking activities for children so positive?

Cooking with children is much more than just preparing food. It’s about spending time together, organizing, planning, building, and creating. These moments are priceless and kids have a great time with their parents. With all that in mind, what are the benefits of involving children in kitchen activities?

Cooking Activities for Children Ages 3 to 6
  • Helps your child learn basic number skills by measuring or counting.
  • Helps your child develop literacy skills by reading recipes.
  • Creates a special time for improving the parent-child relationship.
  • Provides a practical learning experience, while being creative, messy and having a lot of fun.

What’s more, sitting down with your family and sharing the food you’ve prepared with your children is a great way to bond emotionally with your family. It’s also a great way for your children to develop social skills such as sharing, talking and listening.

Cooking activities for children ages 3 to 6: What you’ll need

It’s good to give your children a choice about what to cook. However,  it’s also important to make sure the recipe is simple enough. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing everything while the little ones watch.

Maybe you already know a simple dish you could make with your little one. Maybe it’s something they like to eat, like a favorite meal or dessert. Otherwise, check out recipes for kids or look in your library or bookstore for children’s cookbooks.

Once you’ve decided what to cook, make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you need, plus a clear workspace. You also need a lot of time. Your child will probably mix and measure very slowly and you’ll need to clean up spills as you make the recipe.

Also, your child will probably want to try all the ingredients! That’s fine! But remember, kitchens can be dangerous places for children. Therefore, you should always supervise them around hot surfaces, boiling liquids, electrical appliances, and sharp objects.

How do you cook with your children?

Here are some tips that will work well for you when cooking with children:

  • Talk about the dish before you start. Show your child the ingredients and the recipe, if you’re following one.
  • Let your kids do as much as possible. For example, they could wash vegetables and fruits, pour and stir, and help you measure and count. Also, you can even allow your child to do some simple cutting under careful supervision. For example, cutting soft fruit with a butter knife. You may need to show them what to do first and then let them try.
  • Talk about what they’re doing and introduce words and vocabulary related to cooking, such as “grating” and “mashing.” You can also encourage your children to say words to describe flavors and textures, such as “salty,” “crumbly,” or “crunchy.”
  • Talk about which foods are healthy and why.
  • Let kids share their dishes with friends or family. Praise their cooking and hard work!
Cooking Activities for Children Ages 3 to 6

Adapt cooking activities for children of different ages

A simple green salad is a good first course for the youngest children. Help your little ones wash the leaves and veggies, then let them break them with their fingers. Also, give them a hand when measuring and adding the ingredients for the dressing, and give them a set of spoons to toss the salad in the bowl.

Written recipes are a good way for your older child to develop vocabulary and arithmetic skills. Read the recipe with them before you start. You can also talk about concepts such as fractions, weights and temperature.

Cooking can be a window to other countries and cultures. For example, you can talk with your children about the countries that the dishes come from and the people who live there.

Cooking as a family is a great idea for connecting with your children on a much deeper level and for them to learn great things about you. Plus, you’ll be creating wonderful memories in your children’s minds!


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Todolibro. (2018) Cocina divertida para niños (y no tan niños). Editorial. Todolibro

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.