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What Can Children Do in a Kitchen Helper? - Ideas for Toddlers

Sprout Kitchen helper sous chef toddler stand at How we Montessori Otto 25 months

Having my toddler next to me in the kitchen is a part of my parenting practice. I couldn't parent as smoothing or as easily as I do without a kitchen helper. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and my toddler loves to be right next to me. Obviously the best option is to involve him in whatever I am doing, chopping, general food preparation, cooking etc. But there are times when I don't want his involvement (cutting meat/chilli/onion) or when he isn't interested in food prep. So here are a few activities that I try while my toddler is in his kitchen helper in the kitchen. Some of these activities require preparation but many I just pull together on the spot when needed!

  • Sink/Water Play - this is perhaps our favourite. Can include:
    • washing dishes.
    • scrubbing vegetables - our carrots and potatoes come really dirty straight from the farm.
    • pouring - add some pitchers and funnels or measuring cups.
    • other transferring - add a large baster, pipettes, spoons, ladles, anything interesting for the toddler to use.
    • whisking bubbles - add some washing detergent to add bubbles.
    • sink/float activities - or add floating items for the child to scoop out.
    • play with sponges - add different types of sponges, cleaning sponges, natural sponges, small sponges.
    • more ideas here. I generally try to keep 'toys' out of the kitchen sink and keep it to more practical life activities but use lots of toys like model animals for water play in the bath. 
  • Play with Play-dough.

Toddler flower arranging at how we montessori 25 months

  • Two or  Three Period Lesson - this can be a great time especially when giving the lesson on foods like different types of pasta, fruits, vegetables, grains etc. 
  • Taste Testing/Tasting Plate

Toddler flower arranging at how we montessori 25 months

  • Chopping/Slicing, Grating, - whatever food prep ideas they like the most.
  • Pick Herbs - fantastic for fine motor skills, pick the leaves off the stalk (with pre-cut herbs) or pick the leaves from the plant.
  • Spread crackers with hummus - this can take a while and I allow my toddler to eat as he works. 
  • Juicing - juicing oranges with a simple hand juicer, the kitchen bench is a good wipeable surface and you are nearby to help if needed. 
  • Explore Cut Fruit - place cut fruits or unusual fruits in half and let the child explore, be sure to taste/eat them afterwards.
  • Sort Cutlery
  • Knead Dough, could keep fresh dough in the fridge or freezer and bake when the child has finished.
  • Peel an Egg, Shelling Peas, Peel Apart Garlic Bulbs, de-husk corn - think ahead, is there anything the child can help with to provide snacks for later or get a start on the next meal, toddlers often take a long time to peel a boiled egg or activities like shelling peas. 
  • Flower Arranging - this is a great activity to do in the kitchen as the kitchen is already a wet area or easy to clean up spills. Put a few flowers aside and provide the child with a tray, flowers and a few vases, keep a cleaning cloth near for the child to clean up their own spills.

Toddler flower arranging at how we montessori 25 months

The kitchen helper we love and use is the Sous-Chef Toddler Tower c/o Sprout. 

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