How to Plan a Meal

Ages: 3-5, 6-8
Location: Indoors, Kitchen
Skills: Thinking

What you'll need:
Crayons
Construction paper

Background:
There are times when it may seem easier to do household tasks yourself rather than enlist the help of your children. After all, it takes time and patience to teach a child to help. But if you try this meal-planning activity, you'll find the small amount of extra effort it takes to get your kids involved will be well worth it. It's easy to forget that simple tasks can be great learning experiences for children, not to mention confidence boosters. Encourage your kids to take pride in their abilities to help out and they'll be thrilled.

What to do:
Allow your child to help with meal planning. For example, if you say that you have planned chicken for dinner, your child can help you decide how the chicken should be prepared and what other foods should go with it. Encourage your child to think about what other family members like and don't like to eat, the colors of the different foods being prepared and which foods are available.

Assign the children tasks to meet their skill level, such as peeling carrots or potatoes or setting the table. If you're feeling really ambitious, help them write up a menu of the evening meal with some crayons and construction paper. They can present the menus to whichever "guests" will be attending dinner that night.

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