It’s fun to include some cooking activities for preschoolers in your food and nutrition theme. Try some of these cooking and baking activities in your homeschool preschool or even in your preschool classroom.
These preschool lesson plans are a set of 16 or more activities all related to a cooking and baking theme. You can add these preschool cooking activities to your food and nutrition unit, or it can tag along on the coattails of a gingerbread preschool theme.
Finding cooking and baking themed activities that are appropriate for preschoolers and toddlers can be really difficult. The activities listed below not only allow for preschoolers to experience cooking in a safe way, but they also include a lot of supporting activities that don’t even take place in a kitchen.
This is what makes these free preschool lesson plans so great. Homeschooling preschool parents can easily use them, but so can any preschool teacher in a traditional classroom.
FAQ About Cooking with Kids
Cooking helps young children develop oral language skills. It also encourages children to be more adventurous in their tastes and build confidence. In addition, preschool cooking and baking activities allow children to explore their senses and practice math skills.
Start simple, and allow for extra time. There are a lot of basic recipes that preschoolers can easily execute with adult help, but even the most simple snacks will take longer to prepare if a preschooler or toddler is helping. That’s ok. Just plan for extra time.
To get started cooking with your preschooler, try easy snacks like peanut butter on bread with sliced bananas on top. Guacamole is another easy snack, and so is toast and scrambled eggs. You can always rely on boxed goodies, too. Help your preschooler mix together a box of brownies or blueberry muffins.
Children love to help in the kitchen, and there are a lot of ways they can…if only adults will allow them. For example, preschoolers can easily crush corn flakes in a bag for fried chicken. They can smash potatoes or avocados for guacamole. They can twist citrus fruits on a juicer, or cut bananas with a butter knife or tear lettuce for salad. Be creative.
Best Kids Cooking Tools
Kitchen safety should always come first. Here are some of my favorite cooking supplies and tools to help keep my preschoolers safe while cooking and baking.
Preschool Cooking Theme Lesson Plan Activities
These preschool lesson plans are designed to be done either at home with a parent or in the classroom. Remember, this is a compilation of cooking activities for preschoolers. That includes activities that support actual cooking and baking in the kitchen, but can also be done without a kitchen.
Literacy Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Cookie Alphabet – Draw a cookie shape on a piece of paper and write a letter on it. Using chocolate chips or raisins, invite your preschooler to make the letter with their ingredients, placing their chocolate chips or raisins in a line following the letter you drew on the cookie. Start with each letter in your preschooler’s name.
You can take this activity one step further by baking your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or using a store-bought dough!). Roll out your cookies and then use chocolate chips or raisins to make letters in the cookies. You can do the entire alphabet!
Spaghetti Letters – This fun pasta activity is great for letter recognition, sensory play, and fine motor skills! Cook a box of spaghetti but make sure the noodles are still a bit rigid and don’t fall apart easily. Invite your preschooler to use the noodles to form letters.
Print these alphabet tracing cards to help your preschooler visualize the letters. Make names, words, and even shapes! For even more fun, add some noodles into a zip-top bag with some food coloring for rainbow noodles!
Math and Science Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Pasta Math – Grab some dry pasta (all shapes and sizes) and food coloring. Place a few handfuls of pasta into zip-top bags with liquid food coloring. Seal and shake the bags to distribute the color. You can add a squirt of hand sanitizer to help seal in the color. Lay out the pasta to dry on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Once the pasta is dry, it can be used for counting, sorting, and patterning!
If you want to dye pasta in rainbow colors, use the same bag to prevent waste. Create colors in this order: yellow, red, orange, green, blue, purple.
Cookie Sizes – Make playdough cookies of different sizes and order them by size. Use varied vocabulary including big, bigger, and biggest, or small, medium, and large. This is really fun if you have a set of nesting cookie or biscuit cutters.
Ice Cream in a Bag – Making ice cream in a bag is the best science experiment! Grab milk, ice, sugar, and vanilla and watch the magic happen. For instructions, watch this video for tips and tricks.
Don’t Forget Children’s Books About Cooking and Baking
Every theme can be supported with a well-thought-out book list. Here are some of my favorite picture books about kids cooking and baking:
And here of some of my favorite children’s cookbooks:
Playful Learning Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Food and Nutrition Tracing – Print these fruit and vegetable letter tracing pages. Put them in dry erase pockets and use them again and again, or staple them together in a fruit and vegetable alphabet book. Invite your preschooler to choose a new fruit or vegetable. Head to the grocery store to find it and give it a taste test!
Chalk Art – Invite your preschooler to draw with chalk. Get some black/dark paper (or head outside) and get creative! Invite your preschooler to draw pictures of their favorite foods.
Use this activity as a way to talk about food. Try not to focus on only healthy foods; it’s not uncommon for a preschooler’s favorite food to be something less healthy like French fries. Rather, use this as a casual way to talk about what makes food taste good and how it’s ok to have preferences.
Rice Sensory Bin – Put dry rice in a large bin and add measuring cups, spoons, and small bowls. Encourage your preschooler to measure, pour, and create different “recipes.” Add in other fun ingredients like sprinkles and cake pans. You can make this sensory bin into a baking theme by adding small cooking wares, like ramekins and teaspoons.
Social-Emotional Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Random Act of Kindness – Encouraging preschoolers to randomly think of others is a wonderful way to help them recognize the magic of helping someone other than themselves. Invite your preschooler to make a treat plate for a neighbor or friend. Write a special card or note together and drop it off in person. (This activity makes the best cards ever). Talk to your preschooler about how special it feels to do something nice for other people while asking for nothing in return.
The Missing Cupcakes – Go to YouTube and listen to the book Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by Kimberly and James Dean. After listening to the story, discuss with your preschooler how Pete and Gus feel when they learn someone took two cupcakes. When they learn that Grumpy Toad took all of the cupcakes, they decided he would have to miss the party.
Ask questions like: “Why do you think they gave him another chance? What would you do if you found out someone took all your cupcakes?” When we recognize we all make mistakes, it’s important to take ownership and show control over our choices the next time. We learn from our mistakes!
Just Plain Fun Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Pots and Pans Band – Using items from the kitchen, invite your preschooler to form a band! Introduce different materials including plastic, wood, and metal to create varied sounds and tunes. Discuss with your preschoolers how the sound might change based on the material used. You can also use this time to teach patterns and develop listening skills; have your preschooler first listen to a simple pattern you create, and then copy it.
Healthy Snack Menu – Help your preschooler make a menu of healthy snacks. Encourage him or her to draw or pick out pictures from a magazine to create a yummy menu. Remind them that a healthy diet has a rainbow of colors. You can use this printable to help with that.
Pizza Faces – Make tasty pizza faces using tortillas as a crust. Invite your preschooler to spread the sauce on the tortilla and lay out fresh veggies and cheese in the shape of a funny face. Then bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted. Sit down together and enjoy your snack. Doesn’t it feel nice to eat something you made with your own two hands?
Get Online Activities for a Cooking and Baking Theme
Online Story – Go to YouTube and listen to the book Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai. After listening to this story, invite your preschooler to share their favorite kind of pizza. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and add all their favorite toppings. Then make the real thing with the Pizza Faces activity listed above!
Pat-A-Cake Song – This classic song is a great way to model rhythm, repetition, and get your preschooler excited about being in the kitchen.
Down at the Bakery Song – This cupcake song is a simple subtraction song that’s great for introducing take-away problems and number recognition. After learning the song, invite your preschooler to make their own cupcakes with playdough in mini cupcake liners and create their own subtraction or addition problems. Act as a scribe and write down the problems they create.
Grab Your Free Preschool Lesson Plans Here
Think you want to add these cooking activities for preschoolers to your lesson plans? Grab your free download by clicking the image below.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.