Can Two-Year-Olds Cook Cornbread? You Bet. Plus: A Recipe You Can Make Together!
The kitchen is a learning lab. That’s why at KinderCare Learning Centers, we build cooking into our curriculum and get children cooking early. Test out the recipe below with your little chef. It's adapted from our Discovery Preschool curriculum, because yes, two-year-olds can make their very own cornbread—all from scratch! Here’s what a simple pan of cornbread can teach:
1. Good Hand-Washing Habits
Before kids work with food, teach them to lather up. We all know it’s important to instill good hand-washing habits, and when kids have fun doing it, they build positive associations and healthy habits for life. (You’ll often hear our kids singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (twice) to make sure they wash long enough.) Try it at home!
2. Storytelling and Conversation
Eggs, milk, and corn all come from the farm, and children love learning about the cows, chickens, and crops that produce these ingredients. Our teachers encourage children to participate in conversations and make the connection between ingredients and their source. You can do the same in your own home. Connect apples to orchards, fish to oceans, and blueberries to bushes: You get the idea. Talk about ingredients while you cook.
3. Problem-Solving and Persistence
Scooping up one teaspoon of salt and adding it to a mixing bowl is simple for an adult, but pretty challenging for a two-year-old. Such simple two-step tasks help develop what’s called executive function–things like problem-solving, persistence, focused attention, and impulse control. These skills are critical for learning well into adulthood. So let your child do the measuring, and don’t worry about a little bit of mess.
4. Mad Math Skills
Measuring, counting, and identifying numerals on the recipe are all important math skills—cooking projects allow your little mathematician to test out all three!
5. Intro to Science Concepts
Baking takes a lot of cool chemistry to work well. (For the full scoop on how baking soda creates a chemical reaction makes cornbread fluffy, check out this exhaustive article in Scientific American). For your toddler, it's probably enough to observe how the heat in the oven transforms batter from liquid to solid. It's pretty amazing when you think about it!
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 9-inch pan
1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9-inch pan.
2. Measure the cornmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar into a sifter and sift the mixture into the mixing bowl.
3. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and cooking oil to the dry ingredients, and mix the ingredients together. Parent tip: Talk about how the ingredients change when they are mixed together. “What happened when we added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients?”
4. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake the cornbread in the oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.Enjoy!