What To Do with Kids in the Kitchen?

What To Do with Kids in the Kitchen?

Make play dough and play restaurant.

Make play dough and play restaurant. Photo by Rachel McKean

Two weeks home with the kids out of school and going stir crazy. What to do?

MAKE PLAY DOUGH and play restaurant. Create hamburgers, pasta, cupcakes or your favorite dish out of your play dough. Take orders on a notepad from your customers and deliver them their meal.

Favorite play dough recipe: (kids can mix play dough but adults should cook)

2 cups flour

2 cups water

1/2 cup salt

2 Tbs. cooking oil

2 Tbs. cream of tartar.

Put all in a saucepan, mix and cook until it gets sticky and pulls away from the side of the pan. Divide in half and put a different food color in each half. Scoop out and let cool on foil. Store in a plastic bag to keep soft. Shape into your favorite foods for your restaurant.


Put the suet outside where you can see it and sit in the yard or beside a window inside and count the different birds that arrive to feast on your homemade suet. See if you can identify them with a bird book or searching on the computer.

RECIPE for suet cakes

2 cups lard or Crisco; 1 cup peanut butter; 1/2 cup cornmeal; 2 cups oats; 1/2 cups raisins, currants or dried cranberries; 1/4 cup birdseed, sunflower seeds or peanuts; 1/ tsp. cayenne pepper (if you want to discourage squirrels); empty suet package or tuna cans

Mix all ingredients together with large wooden spoon. Fill suet packages or tuna cans with mixture and put in the refrigerator to harden for a few hours. After naptime, remove suet from containers and put in suet holder or tie with string and hang from a tree branch. Or just put on the ground. Birds will find it.

Suet cakes don’t involve a hot oven, don’t have to rise and allow the kids to get hand-on messy. This recipe is flexible and allows for your own creativity with whatever you have in the cupboard. And it provides a service to the grateful birds in your backyard or public space nearby. The only downside is that the children can’t or probably shouldn't taste the mixture or lick the bowl.

“Make your own pudding pops for lunch dessert.”

Cooking with kids is always fun because they can get messy, they love wooden spoons and large mixing bowls and they can eat what they made.

Pudding Pops

1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tb. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 Tb. cornstarch, 2 cups cold milk, 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.

Whisk together sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in medium saucepan and gradually whisk in milk until mixture is smooth. Set over heat and cook, whisking until mixture is bubbling (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat, add chocolate until melted, then stir in vanilla and salt. Distribute among popsicle molds or small paper cups and place in freezer. Put in popsicle stick when mixture is frozen enough for it to stand up straight. Freeze 6 hours. Only one pudding pop at a time please.

“Get ready for Easter.”

There are the traditional Easter activities like decorating hard-boiled eggs but how about making your own chocolate eggs?

Easter Egg Recipe

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 can sweetened milk

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

Roll shapes, hopefully egg shapes, but who knows. Chill.

Dip in 1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips melted with 1/3 slab paraffin.

If you like, decorate the eggs with the tubes of different colored icings in the baking aisle at the grocery.

“Bake a Zoo”

Buy frozen pizza dough at the grocery store and let it thaw. Cut into pieces. Create zoo animals (or any other shape you like) and bake them. If you like, you can put pizza sauce on the top and sprinkle with mozzarella and have them for lunch.