I love poking through kitchen stores and ogling all the gadgets but so many of them aren’t really necessary. So when I was thinking about utensils for Jack I thought about what types of things he would be doing in the kitchen and what would he need; peeling, mixing, measuring, grating, whisking, mashing, that sort of thing.
In the bottom of our pantry Jack has a cooking and baking basket. Most of his utensils I picked up from the supermarket, except for the grater and rolling pin, which I bought at a kitchen shop. I particularly like the vegetable peeler as it has a plastic blade so no chance of Jack cutting himself. It also has a nice wide handle so he can hold it flat when he is peeling. The grater has a sealed bottom which is also handy for avoiding spills if Jack moves the grater or tips it over.
I bought Jack his own set of measuring cups. I like these ones because each cup size is clearly marked; mine are just plain old blue ones and the measurement is difficult to see. I also like how each cup is a different colour.
All of Jack’s utensils are about half to two-thirds the size of regular utensils. I think this is so important. If I want Jack to enjoy cooking and be comfortable in the kitchen, he has to have utensils which are suited to him, that he is comfortable using. Imagine trying to roll out biscuit dough with a rolling pin as long as your arm, it just wouldn’t be enjoyable.
Having access to the kitchen bench was also important to us. We used to have a regular step stool which you can get inexpensively from a hardware store but after two nasty falls we invested in a Learning Tower. I can’t recommend it enough. I know that it is quite expensive, but for Jack it has opened the kitchen up entirely. He is confident in the kitchen; he doesn’t need to worry about over-balancing. The sides of the Learning Tower catch him if ever he does. He can climb up and down by himself and it takes two children quite comfortably.
Jack truly enjoys being in the kitchen with me; the concentration it takes to crack an egg and then the sense of accomplishment he feels when it drops smoothly into the cup, he wants to be a part of it, he wants to help. It gets messy, and it takes time and patience for him to learn a new skill. But the more he learns, the easier it gets and the more enjoyable it becomes. With his own utensils, Jack is able to concentrate on the task. He is not worrying about using awkwardly sized utensils, instead he is learning to control his movements, developing and refining his fine-motor skills, but just as importantly, he is creating something from scratch, learning how food is made and getting such joy from it.