As children become more self-reliant at an earlier age, a "teachable moment" exists for strengthening food-related life skills.Children are increasingly the caretakers of their own nutrition.
Children who don't know how to cook often rely on packaged foods of questionable nutritional quality.
With the advent of ultra-convenience foods, some food experts worry that we are raising a generation of non-cooks, skilled only in using the microwave to heat ready-prepared food.
For this growing number of youngsters, nutrition education can really work when concepts are practical and applied, emphasizing skills like sanitation, safe food handling, and basic food preparation skills.
Cooking projects give children a boost in confidence, exposure to new and/or healthful foods, and often provide the curiosity and motivation needed to continue cooking at home.
When it comes to teaching children about nutrition, the most direct route may be through the stomach!
Nutrition education takes on a whole new life when combined with cooking projects.
Children are more willing to try new healthful foods while nutrition principles taught in the classroom become more relevant (and tasty too).
Best of all, cooking in school can be a whole lot of fun!
One way to efficiently run a classroom-cooking project is to organize an assembly line.
Using a long table or salad bar, line up the ingredients for such items as rolled burritos, stuffed pita sandwiches or fresh fruit kebabs.
If you utilize this method, make sure there is at least one adult at the beginning and end of the line.